Posts Tagged ‘Milwaukee’

Milwaukee Mingling

July 19, 2014

Wednesday July 15th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

I took a trip home to Milwaukee today, and it turned into a mini whirlwind tour. With the price of gas where it is I think we all have to plan our trips these days. I squeezed as much into a single day as I could, and it was productive. I challenge anyone to pack as much into one day as I did.

My first stop was Miss Katie’s Diner to see my friend Lynn Miner. Lynn is one of my biggest supporters, and an outstanding human being. He’s a magician among many other things, and he’s looking to do that full time after a hugely successful career as a grant seeker all over the world.

I can help Lynn with adding jokes to his act, but he helps me even more. He’s got a lifetime of experience in making business plans, and is mentoring me in what I’m doing. It’s a win/win for all parties, and I always look forward to meeting up with him. We complement each other well.

After lunch I stopped at the Milwaukee County Courthouse and then City Hall to check out the job openings of all things. I always said I’d never move back to Milwaukee, but if I had a reason to – like a decent job – I totally would. The former demons that used to haunt me are now dead.

I hated going back to Milwaukee because of so many bad memories. Now that I’ve gotten back in touch with my siblings, it has healed a lot of those wounds. None of them happen to live there anymore, but that’s where we were born and raised. Milwaukee will always be part of our DNA.

I don’t know if I’ll get a job or not, but it won’t hurt to sniff around and see what’s available. If I could land a nice gig with benefits, I can still do my “Schlitz Happened!” show around the state and continue performing and teaching comedy classes for Zanies in Chicago so life would be ok.

Since I was downtown already, I decided to take a lap through the Milwaukee Public Museum. It had been years since I did that, but I had some time so I decided to make the investment. I had no idea ticket prices have skyrocketed to $15, but by the time I got to the window it was too late.

I hadn’t planned on spending $15, but it really is an outstanding museum so I bit the bullet and I’m glad I did. There were a lot of exhibits I still remember from my childhood along with many new things I had never seen before. I enjoyed every minute of it, and it was interesting to observe all the kids that were there on class field trips just like I went on when I was that age. It was fun.

After that I was able to squeeze in a couple of thrift stores, but didn’t find any ancient artifacts I could resell for huge profits. If VHS tapes ever come back, I know where to load up. Other than that, it was a bunch of junk I wouldn’t take for free. Still, it’s fun to hunt and I enjoyed the stops.

I was listening to my friend Steve ‘The Homer’ True on AM 540 ESPN Radio and he was on a live remote broadcast at a Pick n’ Save grocery store. He was trying to get donations for the local Hunger Task Force and was flipping coins to donate $100. If a listener won, Homer had to donate.

If Homer won, the listener donated. Homer has always supported anything I ever did, and I was glad to stop and flip the coin. I lost of course, but that’s the legend of Mr. Lucky. I received a big plug on the air, and donated to a worthy cause. Milwaukee will always be home, so why fight it?

Milwaukee will always be my hometown, so I might as well embrace it.

Milwaukee will always be my hometown – warts and all, so I might as well embrace it.

Buck Off

July 5, 2014

Wednesday July 2nd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

That Mother Nature can sure be one icy hearted cruel bitch when she wants to. I have been in a one way love affair with the game of basketball ever since I was old enough to know what it was, but she personally saw to it a marriage between basketball and I would never be consummated.

I loved baseball and football too, but basketball was my favorite – probably due to the fact that my hometown Milwaukee Bucks were the only winning local team besides Marquette University basketball coached by Al McGuire, then known as the Warriors. All the other local teams stunk.

Like most school kids, I was delusional and cocksure I was going to have my pick of any major professional sport I was going to play – maybe even two or three. I would make the Hall of Fame in at least one, and then I’d spend the rest of my life signing autographs at baseball card shows.

Little did I know Moms Nature had other plans. She left my toolbox completely bare of any of the tools I would need to play any sport professionally including badminton, bocce or full contact Chinese checkers. I’m Caucasian, clumsy and never came close to being six feet tall. Game over.

That didn’t mean I wasn’t a great fan, and I followed all my local sports teams in Milwaukee as I grew up. The Bucks were my team, and in high school I got a job as a ball boy. That was going to be as close as I would ever get to participating in professional sports, but I had fun anyway.

It’s been painful to be a Bucks fan since Senator Herb Kohl bought the team in 1985, but if he hadn’t they would have left town. I’ve continued to cheer for them, but that’s like cheering for a sheep in a wolf pack. All the cheering in the world won’t help, even if the intentions are sincere.

I was holding out hope when the team was recently sold to a pair of billionaires, but that hope was violently dashed to the pavement this week when the team hired Jason Kidd to be their new head coach. I don’t care one way or the other about Jason Kidd, but how the owners handled the situation spoke volumes. They botched it to the highest degree, and it was totally uncalled for.

Larry Drew was the coach of the team last year, and they had the worst season in their history. He was in a no win situation, but I thought he handled it with class and professionalism. That had to be a nerve shredding meat grinder, but he hung in there to the end of what was a brutal season.

It’s not uncommon for new owners to come into a situation and put their own stamp on things. I was the victim of it several times in radio, and that’s why I was so sensitive to Larry Drew and his situation. I wasn’t surprised that he was let go, but it was done in a way that lost my fandom.

I know he’s got a guaranteed contract for two more years and will be making millions without having to work, but that’s not the point. Couldn’t they sit the guy down and explain things like a human being rather than let it play out in the media? No human deserves to be treated like cattle.

Not that it means anything to the new owners or anybody else, but I’m not going to cheer for a team that handles business like this. The San Antonio Spurs don’t, and they win championships. I love how they do business on and off the court, and they are my new team. Buck off, Bucks.

This is the logo of the Bucks teams I cheered for since I was a kid. Their new billionaire owners lost me in their first week.

This is the logo of the Bucks teams I cheered for since I was a kid. Their new billionaire owners lost me their first week.

Thank You Herb Kohl

April 18, 2014

Wednesday April 16th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

The news story of the day in my home town of Milwaukee was the sale of the NBA franchise the Bucks. The team has been owned since 1985 by Senator Herb Kohl, who purchased it then at what turned out to be the bargain price of $18 million. 29 years later, he sells it for $550 million.

I know 2014 dollars aren’t the same as 1985 dollars, but that’s still a tidy little profit he turned for himself – even though he also pledged to donate $100 million toward a new arena that will be built to meet league requirements. Even if that comes off the top, he’ll still be able to buy lunch.

That kind of money just clogs the brain pipe when comparing it to my little beggar’s cup that’s not even full of nickels. I know that whole chunk isn’t his to spend free and clear, but it’s still on a whole different cosmic plane than I’ve ever been close to and unfortunately will likely never be at least in this lifetime. Some people are born with opportunities others will never come close to.

Herb Kohl came from a family that owned grocery stores, and there was one a few blocks from my grandparents’ house where I grew up. We shopped there every week, and I remember clearly like it was yesterday how he would sometimes be in the store and my grandparents saying hello.

I’m not claiming they were close friends or that he even knew who they were other than people that shopped at the store regularly, but it’s funny to have that obscure childhood memory and see how it grew. The grocery stores eventually closed, but they had Kohl’s Department Store as well. I’m not sure of the details, and it’s none of my business. The point is, they have done rather well.

Herb Kohl had a lot of opportunities most others don’t get. I’m not saying he didn’t work for it at least on some level, but he was in the right position to be one of the big players. Good for him, and by all accounts he has been generous with his resources. He is a known local philanthropist.

He bought the Bucks in 1985 when there was a threat of them leaving town. He made sure they didn’t, and even though they were quite mediocre at best in the standings most of those years the entire city owes him a debt of gratitude – even though most Milwaukeeans I know could not care any less. They bitch and moan about how bad the team is, and most wouldn’t pay to buy a ticket.

Many locals constantly bellyache about the Bucks being terrible, but would have whined even more if the team had moved. I guess it’s human nature to prattle on about what one doesn’t have instead of being grateful for what one does, and I admit I’ve been guilty of that myself regularly.

I listened to the press conference on the radio today, and it wasn’t ten minutes later when calls started coming in with fans complaining Herb Kohl should have donated more. They implied he should have built the new arena himself or something, even though he has been quite generous.

It sure is easy to spend other people’s money, isn’t it? As a native Milwaukeean, I’m thankful they didn’t move out of town in ’85. I was a ball boy in high school, and still have friends to this day that work there. Bad team or not, I’m still a fan. If nobody else says it, thank you Herb Kohl.

In high school, I was a ball boy for the Milwaukee Bucks. It was a blast, and I still have friends from that time to this day.

In high school, I was a ball boy for the Milwaukee Bucks. It was a blast, and I still have friends from that time to this day.

Herb Kohl kept the Bucks from leaving town in 1985, and if nobody else appreciates it I do. Thank you Senator Kohl.

Herb Kohl kept the Bucks from leaving town in 1985, and if nobody else from Milwauee appreciates it I do. Thank you Senator Kohl.

All Hat, No Cattle

March 20, 2014

Tuesday March 18th, 2014 – Rosemont, IL

The Bat Phone rang at the last minute again yesterday, and I was asked to host the “10 for $10” showcase at Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, IL tonight. I never mind getting that call, as it’s an easy gig and I like to observe the next generation of comedians and know what they’re doing.

There are more absolutely horrendous acts these days than ever before, but there are good ones too. It’s always rare in any creative field to see “naturals”, but when it’s easier for anyone to gain access to doing it there are bound to be higher odds. But at the end of the day, true talent shines.

When I started, not that many people were doing standup comedy. Most cities had a core group of comedians, and they knew each other. It was that way in Milwaukee, and I was one of about a dozen at the core of the comedy scene for several years. Some came and went, but for the bulk of that time that same dozen or so were it. It was that way everywhere for the most part back then.

As time has passed, there has been an explosion in the number of wannabe comedians and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. Most of them I see are complete idiots quite honestly, and I fail to see their reason for doing it. I was an idiot too, but I knew it and realized I had a long way to go. I respected the craft, and would do whatever was needed to improve. I was a student of the game.

I am still a student of the game, and that’s why I host showcases whenever I can. When I came up, most of us were on roughly the same level. I started out on the bottom but quickly caught up. Today there is a great chasm between generations, and the cockiest ones seem to be the newbies.

The dawn of the internet generation has not done standup comedy any favors. I’m seeing a new breed of newbies that think they know it all before they start, and it’s laughable to listen to all the attitude they bring without having ever done anything. In Texas they call that “all hat, no cattle”.

I’ll preach that standup comedy is the hardest performance art there is to my dying day because it happens to be the truth. I can’t think of any craft that isn’t difficult, but standup comedy is high atop any list. Anyone that has ever truly succeeded knows that, and greatly respects the process.

I know I do, and that’s why I try to be extra nice to those coming up the ladder. There are many rungs on that ladder, and we’re all at different levels at any given time. Very few ever make it to the very top one, but those that do deserve the ultimate respect. Bill Cosby is one I can think of.

He has taken standup comedy about as far as anyone ever has, but he’s still out there working it at age 76 – and the key word is WORKING. His schedule is full, and still works clean fifty years after he started. Is there a coincidence there? Hardly. We can all learn from his success methods.

Any real comedian doesn’t have time to cop any attitude. He or she is out there working on the craft constantly, and not trying to become a star the easy way by avoiding work. This new breed of cocksure rookies needs to dial it back a few notches and study the masters. I know I do, and it tells me how much more work I need to do. Bill Cosby has so much cattle, he doesn’t need a hat.

gene wilder

Bill Cosby is busier than I am at age 76. And he doesn't need the money. All comedians can learn from him.

Bill Cosby is busier than I am at age 76, and he doesn’t need the money. He’s at the top of the ladder. All comedians can learn from him.

Across The Water

March 3, 2014

Saturday March 1st, 2014 – Muskegon, MI

From my earliest memory of seeing a large body of water first hand, the first thought that pops into my mind is wondering what’s on the other side. Growing up in Milwaukee, the water I saw was Lake Michigan and I was with my grandfather when I saw it. I was probably six or seven.

I remember asking Gramps “What’s over there on the other side?”

“Muskegon, Michigan.”

‘What’s that?”

“It’s another city in another state.”

My imagination took it from there. From that moment I began crafting a vivid mental image of what I purported to be an exotic faraway Mecca abuzz with rabid excitement and swashbuckling adventure. It was to Milwaukee what the New World was to Columbus – and I wanted to sample a spoon full of its charms. Surely it had to be better than the mundane boredom of my birthplace.

I don’t know why the thought of going there attacked my fancy so much, but it did. The legend of what I pictured Muskegon to be grew as fast or faster than I did, and somewhere in the back of my mind I always knew I would walk upon that soil. There was even a ferry boat that went there.

I assumed a ride on that boat would either be an Ellis Island immigration in reverse situation or a scary sequel to the Titanic or Edmund Fitzgerald. Neither appealed to me, and in all the years I had the chance to take that ferry I just never did. Somebody must have, as it is still operational.

After several years of getting out there as a road comedian, my professional trail eventually did go through Muskegon, MI – and the level of all out crushing disappointment was right up there in my life’s dumpster with finding out professional wrestling was fake and/or that I wasn’t going to ever receive the ten million dollars Ed McMahon promised. Baseball bat blows to the skull, all.

Muskegon, MI turned out to be just another town. Not a bustling city, but not a deserted island either. It’s a lot smaller than Milwaukee, and a lot less exciting – and I find Milwaukee to be not exciting whatsoever. It’s a blue collar working class city that tries to shine in Chicago’s shadow.

Muskegon is like a distant cousin we always heard about, but didn’t get to meet in person until a forced family get together like a wedding, funeral or reading of a will. It wasn’t a very moving experience, and when it was over everyone went their separate ways. That’s how this turned out, but I’m still glad I went there. It wasn’t the raucous thrill packed place I thought, but I got there.

Tonight I had a show in Muskegon at an old movie theatre. They have new owners and want to add live entertainment to the mix. They’ve only done a few shows, but it’s a nice facility. There was a smaller turnout tonight because of bad weather, and I never like to see that. It was a rough drive around the lake to get there, and a LOT longer than if I could have taken that ferry instead. But I couldn’t. Disappointment all around. But I did get paid, and made it home safely. Victory.

No offense to anyone from there, but Muskegon, MI was a lot more exciting in my imagination as a kid than it ever was in real life when I finally got there.

No offense to anyone from there, but Muskegon, MI was a lot more fun and exciting in my imagination as a kid than it ever was in real life when I finally arrived there. BORRR-ring!

Gramps 101

November 19, 2013

Monday November 18th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Anyone who knows me well knows how immense an influence my grandfather was and still is in my life. Gramps was my father figure, first mentor and number one fan. If it weren’t for all of his well placed wisdom and patience, I have no doubt I’d be dead or in prison. He was my hero.

For as long as I am alive, November 18th will be a personal holiday because it was his birthday. He was born in 1912, and I was able to obtain a Mayoral Proclamation in Milwaukee last year on the 100th anniversary of his birth. He was proud to be a Milwaukeean, and I know he would have been blown away if he knew his personal centennial would be an official day in his home town.

I doubt if it meant anything to anyone but me, but I’m really glad I went through the procedure to make it happen. I have the document in my possession, and it means a lot just like having one created for my comedy mentor C. Cardell Willis. If anyone has ever earned kudos, those two did.

Gramps and Cardell were a lot alike in that they were both students of the game of life and they both had the teaching gene. They went out of their way to acquire knowledge, but then would not be satisfied unless they could pass it on to someone else. I am lucky to have had them both as my mentor precisely at the time I needed them most. It was important to me to honor their memories.

Gramps and Cardell also shared the trait of not sugarcoating anything. They called it like it was and I appreciate them both for that. They are two of the few people I have ever met that were not afraid of stepping on toes. They weren’t looking to offend, but they wouldn’t back down either.

I remember taking long walks with Gramps and getting into these long involved conversations about anything and everything. I could ask him anything, and he’d give me an answer. He would always tell me to think for myself, and not just go along with something because it was popular.

He had some ideas that would be unorthodox today to say the least, but I can’t deny they make perfect sense even now. What I owe Gramps – and anyone smart enough to want to acquire true wisdom – is to compile a book of lessons he taught me. I didn’t realize it then, but he wrote it on my heart all through my childhood. Those long walks were when he etched his lessons into me.

I can’t believe how far ahead of his time Gramps was. He took me on my own personal ‘Scared Straight’ adventure when I was maybe 12. He arranged a personal tour of the Ethan Allen School for Boys juvenile detention center in Delafield, WI. It scared me far more than any lecture could.

“This is about the age your father started acting up,” he said between puffs of his non-filter Pall Mall cigarette. “I could tell you about this place, or I could show it to you. I’m showing it to you so when you think about doing something stupid THIS is where they’ll send you. And if you do get sent here – don’t call me. You’re on your own.” Gramps had a flair for the dramatic, and it worked.

I’ve been without Gramps longer than I had him, and I can’t think of one thing I wouldn’t give to have a single hour with him now. I know he’d have valid insight, and would throw out his raw thoughts on everything. Wow, would I love that right now. I can’t have it, so the best way to pay him back is to put out a book of our experiences together. He dictated it to me years ago.

My grandfather got his college degree at age 52 after years of night school. He taught me far more than any college ever could.

My grandfather got his college degree at age 52 after years of night school. He taught me far more than any college ever could.

Mentor and mentee - aka me.

Mentor and mentee – aka me.

Tuesday Tradition

November 1, 2013

Tuesday October 29th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

It’s Tuesday, and that means I make my weekly appearance with “Stone and Double T” on the “Low Budget Morning Show” on 104.9 “The X” in Rockford, IL. I’ve been a regular with them for a few years now, going back to when they used to be on in the afternoon. They’re great guys, and totally get it on many levels. The only negative about being on with them is where they are.

No offense to Rockford or anyone who lives there, but it’s never going to be an entertainment Mecca, or a Mecca for anything else. It’s a depressed town that most people 500 miles or farther from it have probably never even heard of. It’s just one town, and that’s not how to get famous.

On the upside, it’s cheap to live there and if someone wanted to be in Chicago or Milwaukee to experience city life it’s a little over an hour away and easy to get to both places. It wouldn’t be a horrible place to live I suppose. They have some nice suburbs, but the city itself is rather seedy.

A lot of places are like that these days. The city of Milwaukee is getting pretty funky, whereas when I grew up there it was always very clean and well kept. Maybe it was the German influence of freakish neatness that made it that way then, but it’s not there now. Most cities are in disarray, but there are always at least a few nicer areas for those who are fortunate enough to have a job.

My first radio job was in Lansing, MI which is an absolute toilet. I lived right on the border of Lansing and East Lansing, and it wasn’t bad at all. I had about a ten minute drive to work if that, and I got used to living there. I was making money, so the stench of the town wasn’t as pungent.

I’m sure the same is true with Stone and Double T. They are both employed, but neither one is originally from there. They’re paid mercenaries, but they have grown to be a part of local fabric over time and now I’m sure they both call Rockford home. That’s the tradeoff of being in radio.

Very few ever get to become media stars in their home town, just as most pro athletes don’t get to play for their hometown teams very often. Michael Jordan was not born in Chicago and Aaron Rodgers surely wasn’t born in Green Bay. Fate, destiny or whatever one wants to call it is where people end up settling and becoming local fixtures. That’s what Stone and Double T have done.

Radio is full of those stories. Steve Dahl is not from Chicago but that’s where his success was. Bob and Tom are not from Indianapolis, but they’ve worked there for more than 30 years. I have always wanted to find a town where I could do that, but try as I might it just hasn’t happened yet.

I’ve got a little bit of a name in Chicago, and my hometown of Milwaukee too. I would hope I also have at least some recognition in Rockford with all the times I’ve been on the air both with Stone and Double T and also filling in at the news/talk station WNTA. I hope someone listens.

Even if they don’t, I am still flattered Stone and Double T have me on the air every week. They are both as real and friendly as it gets in radio or anywhere else, and their personalities could not fit that town any better. It’s a perfect match, and hopefully they can make a solid living for years. The only problem for me is that they’re not on in more markets. I’ve said it before, but it’s a fact – if Stone and Double T were Bob and Tom, we’d all be millionaires by now. http://www.wxrx.com.

You can catch me every Tuesday morning on the 'Stone and Double T' show on WXRX 'The X' in Rockford, IL www.wxrx.com

You can catch me every Tuesday morning on the ‘Stone and Double T’ show on WXRX ‘The X’ in Rockford, IL http://www.wxrx.com

Double Dipping

September 12, 2013

Wednesday September 11th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI/Rosemont, IL

Most of my days end up being hectic in one way or another, but today was the way I like it. If I had my way, it would be like this all the time. I had two comedy shows, and got to hang out with some good friends. This is exactly how I always thought life should be, but so often it falls short.

The first show was in Milwaukee this afternoon for the Milwaukee Retired Police Association. Someone from their group saw me do my “Schlitz Happened!” show at Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in April and recommended me to the committee. I’m delighted they did.

This is exactly the kind of group this show should be for. These people were city of Milwaukee police officers with a minimum age of over 42, and they got everything I was talking about. I had a bit of a slow start, because I don’t think they had ever had a comedian at their meeting before.

The situation of lights and sound is always an issue, and this was held in a Legion Post with no stage lighting per se. I was on the floor in front of them, and it was an adjustment to get settled in but once I did it went very well. The person in charge Wray Young couldn’t have been nicer, and said he’d like to have me back. I’d love to go back, and I will be much more prepared next time

This audience was a little older, and that’s fine but I should have read them better. I tried to get laughs first, when in fact I should have told more stories. I figured that out part way through, and it made all the difference in the world. They are all from Milwaukee, and the more details I threw in the more they loved it. I don’t often have that luxury in an audience, and I totally exploited it.

There have to be a hundred groups like this of people who grew up in Milwaukee. They’re not necessarily standup comedy fans, but I know I can entertain them and make them laugh with this concept. I am really looking forward to going back to Potawatomi, and today it reignited my fire.

My friend and former student Russ Martin came out and did some time, as he was a former cop himself. He was a County Sherriff at one time, so I thought it would be appropriate for him to do a few minutes. We hung out afterward and had a meal. Russ is a really good guy, and despite the fact he’s older than me he really loves comedy and has the enthusiasm of a kid. It’s refreshing.

After that I drove to Rosemont, IL to headline a show at Zanies Comedy Club. That’s always a treat for many reasons. Not only is it a state of the art facility, the staff is top notch. The manager is Cyndi Nelson, and she’s one of if not the best in the business. Everyone loves her, and she’s an absolute peach to work for. She treats us all like stars, and dented cans always enjoy an ego rub.

Dan Carlson is there too, and that’s another rare treat. Dan is a very funny comedian, but chose to get into club management because he has a family and wants to stay in town. I totally relate to that situation, but it’s great to have him there because he sees things from the comic’s viewpoint.

The show tonight was a two boot ass kicker. There was a large group of construction people up front, and they were there to have fun. They were diverse, and that made it better. Several times I had to stop and let the laughs die down, and that’s about the best problem a comedian can have. I wish every day of life could be like this, but it’s not. Today was, and I loved every minute of it.

Harley Horror

September 2, 2013

Sunday September 1st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   By all accounts, I should be a fanatical fan of Harley-Davidson and everything they are about. I have always been a student of marketing, and they’ve done one of the best marketing jobs of any company I have ever seen. They rose from the ashes to create a brand that has worldwide appeal. Actually, they’re more than a brand. They’ve become a way of life. Not many products do that.

   They sell the idea of high adventure, being a free spirit and having fun. I’m usually all about all of that as well. And on top of everything, their home office happens to be located in the very city where I was born. In theory, we should have formed a symbiotic relationship that lasts a lifetime.

    In reality, I can’t stay far enough away from a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. I’ve never owned one, nor have I been tempted to buy one. If I won one in a raffle, I would unload it the same day. It’s nothing against Harley-Davidson per se, as I would be equally against any motorcycle brand.

   That’s a direct result of my childhood, and I don’t deny it. I know it shouldn’t have any power over me now, but it totally does. Every time I hear that disgusting roar of a Harley motor it takes me immediately back to my childhood when my old man or one of his unwashed maggot cronies in the Outlaws would pull up to the house on their scooter.  It sets off a Pavlovian reaction in me.

   Every time I heard that sound as a kid, it reminded me that the old man was coming home, and that was rarely a happy event. If he was in a foul mood – and he usually was – someone was sure to get a beating. It wasn’t always me, but even still hearing that sound made my bunghole wink.

   It’s loud, obnoxious, annoying and it disturbs me to the core. I want to be as far away from it as possible – just like all the oozing humanoid slime that used to hang out with my father. I realize it isn’t the fault of Harley-Davidson, and I don’t hold it against them. But I can’t stand that sound.

   This weekend was the 110th anniversary of Harley-Davidson, and as has been their tradition for years there was a huge event in the city of Milwaukee where riders from all over the world came to celebrate. Again, in theory I should have been all over this. In reality, I avoided it like herpes.

   I couldn’t avoid it totally, as there were all kinds of riders on the highways of Northern Illinois where I live. They rode in packs, and that damn sound was everywhere all weekend. I tried not to think about it, but it was impossible to ignore. Every time I hear it it shoots me right back to that place in my childhood I’ve been trying to escape since I was there the first time. It’s pure torture.

   I’m not saying everyone who rides a Harley is a maggot. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I would bet most Harley riders are doctors, lawyers, yuppies and other weekend wannabe warriors. They are entitled to their fun, and I don’t begrudge it to them. On paper, the event was a huge success.

   I wish I could enjoy it with them, but no matter how hard I try I just can’t get that sound out of my brain. It has tainted my viewpoint forever. I hope the throngs who attended the event had fun, but I for one could not be any more thrilled it’s over for at least another five years. I like it quiet.

Braun’s Song

July 23, 2013

Monday July 22nd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL 

   Jimmy cracked corn and nobody cared, so why the big cluster fuss about Ryan Braun getting cracked for using performance enhancing drugs? That’s all everyone was talking about today on radio, television and online, and they made it sound like it was some sort of catastrophic event.

   Friends from all over were contacting me all day asking questions and offering condolences as if I’d lost a loved one or something. It’s funny to me that they’d do that, as we have nothing at all in common other than Braun happens to be employed – or at least he was – in the city I was born.

   Other than that, we couldn’t be any more different. He’s a twenty something Californian pretty boy who has a smoking hot lingerie model girlfriend and millions in the bank. He has a fantastic dream home in Malibu, and a condo in Milwaukee where I couldn’t even afford a parking space.

   He’s in the restaurant business with Aaron Rodgers, and he’s got a multimillion dollar contract that paid him $6 million this year and is guaranteed for several more. He’s a former MVP and an All Star, and if none of that is enough he’s played long enough to be vested with a hefty pension.

   I’m a journeyman standup comic trying to piece together a living from month to month, hoping to catch a decent break at an age where most people are preparing for geezerhood, grandchildren or both. I’m ass deep in credit card debt, I owe the IRS and I have a huge medical bill from a stay in the hospital in 2011 I doubt if I’ll ever be able to pay. Braun and I are in two different worlds.

   And I’m supposed to feel sorry for this guy? That’s just not going to happen. I don’t have time to feel sorry for anyone, including myself. I have to get out there and squeak out a living for one more week. That keeps me busy enough. Some millionaire who felt a need to fib isn’t my fault.

   I must admit, I admired the guy as a baseball player. Yes I am from Milwaukee, and I’ve been a Brewers fan since I can remember – and that’s a pretty long time. I hearken back to before the Robin Yount era, and I’ve watched countless crybabies come and go. This is not a crisis. It’s life.

   The entire world has changed since I was a kid in the ‘70s. The guys I watched then weren’t in the same zip code as the rich kids today. A big star then didn’t have the financial clout of a scrub today, as it just wasn’t how things worked. They made decent bucks, but not like they do today.

   Nobody was on steroids then, but they took amphetamines in the ‘70s and cocaine was an issue with not only most teams but most sports in the ‘80s. Athletes are people, and people have flaws. I don’t think they have an obligation to be role models to our children – but it sure would be nice.

   I’m disappointed in Ryan Braun, but why should he care? He’s set for life financially before he turns thirty, and there aren’t too many who can ever say that. Did he ‘cheat’? Maybe so, but what other business doesn’t do that? Strippers have fake boobs, but nobody stops ogling them do they?

   Granted, fake boobs aren’t illegal but why should steroids be? If an athlete wants to juice up to gain a distinct advantage, so what? It’s not my testicles that are going to shrivel up. I’m a paying customer, and I want to see action. I don’t make millions and I can’t hit home runs, so what else can I do but pay someone else to do it for me? We all pay to watch athletes do what we can’t, all so we can hold up an index finger and claim that “WE are number ONE!” No stupid, the TEAM is number one – you’re a janitor. Deal with it. Life is cruel.  Feel sorry for Ryan Braun? Hardly.