Posts Tagged ‘Tucson’

Way Below Zero

January 8, 2014

Monday January 6th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

If I ever have a chance to meet Al Gore in person, there better be an extra set of Secret Service agents on duty because I want a piece of that halfwit. I want to ball up both fists and make it rain bolo punches on his skull until one of us drops from exhaustion. Global warming me frozen arse.

These are the winters I remember so well growing up in Milwaukee. Walking to school when it hurts to breathe is a memory no kid should have. I thought I was exaggerating how cold it was all those years, but I knew as soon as I stepped out the door this morning I had remembered it right.

I had to take my rental car back today, and the engine barely turned over. I had to try five or six times, but it eventually started. It took about twenty minutes for the heater to get up to speed, so I waited inside until I saw the solid sheet of ice melt from the windshield. This is as cold as it gets.

What made it worse was that I had to do it all over again with my car when I got to Enterprise. I also had to clean a foot of snow off the top, so that kept me warm and busy as I waited for their guy to inspect my rental to make sure I hadn’t been using it to transport cocaine or nuclear waste.

The world was a giant Popsicle all day as people left their cars running in hopes they wouldn’t have to use their AAA. I would hate to be a tow truck driver today on one hand, but on the other it would be raining money day and night. This is the kind of weather that makes people relocate.

The last few winters have been downright balmy compared to this one, and it’s only barely into January. This could hang on until April, and it just might. And to think I was in Tucson just days ago where people were actually bellyaching at night because it had gotten down to – gasp – 55!

Personally, I don’t mind the cold if I don’t have to be out in it. I took care of my car issues and went straight home to work on putting together an email newsletter to hopefully be sent out next Monday January 13th. I haven’t had one in several years, and it’s high time I get it started again.

I think it’s a great idea to touch people with a newsletter, but there’s a fine line between doing good business and being a human mosquito. I never want to annoy people, but I don’t think once a month is out of line. It’s a great way to keep my name out there with bookers, friends and fans.

I’ve been studying a lot of newsletters of late, and there are some very good ones. I don’t know how long it will take me to get to their level, but if I don’t start I’ll never have the chance. I need to just get something OUT, and I like the idea of making the 13th of the month my personal day.

Most people send one on the 1st, and that gets cluttered. I subscribe to several myself, and it’s a chore trying to read them all at once. Hopefully mine will slide under the radar and stand out. I’d also like it to stand out because of quality content, and that’s another thing I’ve been working on.

I sketched out an outline for the entire year. I intend to write a short humor article every month and also a ‘how to’ article for my students. I also will include any actual news that happened for the month, and a complete schedule of where I’ll be in the near future. This is exactly what to do to start the year right, and my pit crew Eric Feinendegen and I intend to have it out by Monday.

Hey Genius, it was -14 in Chicago today. I can think of a MUCH better place for you to put that thumb.

Hey O brilliant genius, it was -14 in Chicago today. I can think of a MUCH better place for you to put that thumb.

“The THING”

January 3, 2014

Wednesday January 1st, 2014 – Tucson, AZ/Roswell, NM

A new year begins with a new attitude and new direction. I couldn’t feel any better about all of it, but I still can’t figure out why it took this long to get in the game. It did, but I’m here now and that’s all that’s important. I have a lot I want to do this year, and sniveling about the past isn’t it.

I’m glad I went to Tucson, but now I have to make the long drive back to Chicago. Apparently there’s going to be a lot of snow for the next several days, so that’s going to be interesting. All I saw in Tucson was sunshine, and that’s what I’m seeing on the inside too. I want to keep that up.

I feel like I’ve been dropped into another person’s body or something, and I’m growing to love it more with each passing day. I’m thinking clearly, and am in a stellar mood. There are still idiot drivers on the road for example, only now I don’t flip out like I used to. I’M the changed entity.

Rather than question, I need to just let it happen. I know I’ll have bad days and make some bad choices, but those will be the exception rather than the rule. I feel like I’ve established a winning vibe, and right now it feels like I can keep it indefinitely. If I have my way, I’ll never get rid of it.

My focus for 2014 is going to be marketing, showmanship and improving everything having to do with business. I plan on keeping immaculate tax records, and making it a weekly maintenance task rather than an annual stress fest trying to untangle it later. I am making rock solid decisions.

I’ve got a list of the first dozen books I want to read this year, and hopefully I’ll get to a whole lot more than that. I am also making time to exercise daily, if nothing else just a 30 minute walk. These are all things I’ve done off and on forever, but this is the year it all needs to become habit.

There’s a Sweet Tomatoes salad buffet restaurant a block from the hotel, so I stopped there for my first meal of 2014. It never hurts to run some roughage through the pipes, and I did just that. I then stopped at a grocery store and bought some water for the trip so I can start drinking more of that as well. It’s something we all should do, but my kidney stone of 2013 converted me for life.

As I drove east on I-10 I saw signs for a tourist gimmick I stopped to see years ago called “The Thing”. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but they advertise it for miles on billboards. The $1 cover charge is never mentioned until one enters the building, but by then curiosity has been aroused.

I had to pay another buck to see it again. I wanted to study how they handled it as marketers to see if I could reallocate any concepts for whatever I might be doing in the future. I thought their display was mediocre at best. If that were my attraction, I’d shine it up a lot more. But that’s me.

Apparently they know what they’re doing, even though I was the only sucker that forked over the buck out of all the people in the gas station. I know it’s a holiday but there were some drivers on the road. None of them had the desire to see “The Thing” except me, but I’m still glad I did.

The most important observation I made was that it’s not really important what the product is if it gets promoted strongly enough. That’s going to be the continuing theme for 2014 and beyond. I made it to Roswell, NM, and got an expensive cheap motel. This is another operation to study.

"The Thing" is an attraction at a tourist trap at Exit 322 on I-10 in Arizona.

“The Thing” is an attraction at a tourist trap at Exit 322 on I-10 in Arizona.

There are signs advertising it for miles in both directions.

There are signs heavily advertising it for miles and miles in both directions.

After all that hype and $1 later - this is what it is. Welcome to the wonderful world of extreme disappointment.

After all that hype and $1 later – this is what it is. Welcome to the wonderful world of extreme disappointment.

Life Begins Today

December 29, 2013

Friday December 27th, 2013 – Flagstaff, AZ/Tucson, AZ

Today was flat out the absolute single happiest day of my entire life to date. How often can one honestly say that? But it was. Knowing that there is a super strong possibility of me meeting with my three siblings after decades of separation and extreme hurt feelings has made me feel like I’m finally alive and on the same playing field as everyone else. It took forever to happen, but it has.

All day today my brother Bruce and I exchanged emails, and every one was more encouraging than the last. We’ve opened up the deep river of communication that has never been there in our adult lives, and I can feel the healing vibes already flow. This is EXACTLY what I’ve hoped for since I was a kid, and it’s a feeling of sweetness I’ve never felt before. This is my biggest dream.

It feels like I personally won the Super Bowl, the lottery and got a key to the Playboy Mansion all in the same day. I feel bullet proof emotionally for the first time ever, and I know I will never have suicidal thoughts like I have in the past. THIS is what was hurting, and I found the source.

The feeling of giddiness that’s racing through me now is pure ecstasy. I seriously doubt a heroin high would be able to make me feel as good as this. It’s like the biggest boil in history has been lanced, and all the pus is draining away forever. For the first time in my life I feel I have hope.

I honestly never expected this to happen, at least not how it has. It seemed to be the impossible dream, even though it’s what I wanted more than anything in the world. This means more to me than getting on The Tonight Show, my own sitcom or a ten picture movie deal. If I had to choose between the Packers winning every game they play from now on or this, I’d take this in a second.

This is where the pain in my life that has hurt so badly for so long has originated. I knew it as a kid, and it has bothered me since then. We’ve never been able to sit down and talk about it in any way, and there have been festering emotions rotting away for eons. I’m sure my siblings feel it as well. For whatever reason, this particular time is turning out to be right for us all. We are in sync.

It hasn’t happened yet obviously, but I’m supremely confident it absolutely will – much sooner than later. Bruce and I are to the point of narrowing down a date in February or March where the four of us can meet for a meal at a restaurant to start the healing wheels in motion. I am ecstatic.

Bruce gets more and more excited with each email, and says Tammy and Larry are up for it as well. We all need this, and it will be a wonderful experience to come together as a – dare I say it – family for the first time. We’ve never ever had that relationship, so this is new ground for us.

I was on an emotional rocket ship as I made the gorgeous drive from the Motel 6 in Flagstaff, AZ to Phoenix to have lunch with my old friend Pete Christensen. Pete is a really good soul and knows me about as well as anyone. He’s had radio and TV shows forever and is also a comedian. He knows my family situation, and could see how excited I was that this is all finally happening.

I got back in the car after lunch and drove the rest of the way to Tucson with the window down and my spirits up. It seemed like every song that came on the radio had personal meaning just for me, and it was uncanny after a while. The first I noticed was ‘Ooh Child’ by The Five Stairsteps.

The lyrics “things are going to get easier” resonated deep into my soul. After that Sister Sledge ‘We Are Family’ came on. I turned the radio up as loud as it would go, and just let the vibes flow through to my innermost core. I wanted to let all that pus from the past drain out, and it totally is.

This doesn’t guarantee everything in life is going to be “Hershey bars and Archie comics” like Gramps used to say, but it puts me on an even playing field for the first time and lets me become as close to a whole person as I’m ever going to become. This was the first step that needed to be taken decades ago, but never happened for whatever reason. Now it is, and I couldn’t be happier.

It’s going to open up so many positive doors. I predict that if I’m allowed to live and continue the life path I’m on I’ll be married or at least have a solid relationship within two years. THIS is what has held me back, because I was in so much pain I was never able to commit emotionally.

I also predict I’ll have a major career breakthrough in a short time – mainly because I’ve given up caring. My whole mindset has changed, and it’s no longer about ‘proving myself’ or ‘showing someone’. A big reason of why I got into comedy was for approval, but this is the approval I was really after. Why should I care what a room full of drunks in Duluth thought? That was all I had.

Now I have the golden opportunity to build a meaningful relationship with the only three other people on the planet that can truly relate to the source of my pain. It’s the source of theirs as well so this will be a win/win/win/win. I’m as excited as I’ve ever been, but also completely realistic.

We’re all still four broken and hurting people, and that won’t ever change. There will be scars, and deep ones at that. We’re all very different, and we’ve got to get to know each other as adults all over again. We’ll have quirks and soft spots, and we’ll all have to navigate around all of that.

I’m not saying we won’t have disagreements, but what we will have is a chance to heal. That’s the reason I’m feeling so exhilarated, and I know it will be a major turning point in my life. I had a similar experience with my grandmother before her brain was stolen by Alzheimer’s disease.

As warm and uplifting as Gramps was, Grandma was an ice queen. She was German and angry at life in general. She’s the source of a lot of pain and dysfunction too, and at one point we didn’t speak for about ten years. We got back in contact when she was in her mid 80s, and we forged an absolutely amazing relationship that lasted a couple of years – and that’s how I’ll remember her.

I would drive up to Milwaukee from Chicago about once a week and bring her a hamburger or Chinese takeout and she’d act like it was filet mignon. She never drove a car, and to her it was as big a deal as it got. She’d tell me stories of her and Gramps’ early life, and it was our best times.

We’d had years of anguish and sadness, but we ended up on a super high note that stays in my memory even now. I can absolutely see the same happening with Tammy, Larry and Bruce. We are all ready for this, and all on the same page as far as letting the past die and moving forward.

I had two absolutely MONSTER shows at Laffs in Tucson tonight. This will provide me with a secret weapon for the rest of my life. The approval I was seeking for so long I’ve now got, so the laughs I get on stage are pure. My life is about to explode, but finally in a good way. Stay tuned!

It feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders. I can't put into words how wonderful it feels.

It feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders. I can’t put into words how wonderful it feels.

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.