As previously stated.
So to keep with the tradition of lifelong embaressment... crap begins below.
**some identifying and interesting heading**
It’s a world that conspires against writing. Every thing that is lusted after, is writing’s (the work) enemy. When do I dare pause on this grand carousel of fun to journal the adventure?
Well, it would seem the small quiet afforded by the minus 21 degree northern Saskatchewan anti-scenic mural out the window is the last straw against my procrastination. What could I possibly have better to do here?
Cigarettes. (I took up very casual smoking after a five year pause due to a romantic tidal wave for the world noir last week in Paris)
Masturbation. (My ubiquitous writing aid is also my prime mistress, along with the internet as a tool for defilement providing me with an ever increasing palate of bizarre tastes for my slowly deadening sexuality to feast on)
Observation.(otherwise known as zoning out)
Rationalization.(the endless debate of my subconscious , that not one soul upon this planet need care of my personal journey, and that I alone am completely a fiction of my own ego for importance) Yeah that ones the kicker.
I jumped continents last week, and dropped my bags at my very unused apartment near the cold waters of Vancouver’s Kitsilano shores. I am one busy-lazy son of a bitch. It amazes me sometimes that I have to travel so much just to maintain the element of sloth that my molded molasses frame flows with.
I really dislike activity. The frozen moments upon couches and beds, comfy chairs and Grecian urns are the interests that hold me. Its amazing that I only made such a friend of weed so late in my life, but I imagine if I had enjoyed its bliss too early on it would have been but a mere attempt at the grand lazy lifestyle. Not the continent jumping, sultan of the sedentary that I have evolved into.
Thirty plus years upon this planet and I guarantee I have worked less, and less hard than any of my contemporaries. A total of four jobs in my life, none ever lasting more than two years and most only lasting six months. No real college or university schedule either, no long standing medical reason, bad back, or even a coma. Just shear inactivity. Oh and I’m not fat. Well not anymore I was kinda fat for like a year, but that had to go, as it goes against the principles of sloth. (Later) (maybe never, cause finishing shit goes against it as well).
Every year social security in the states sends you an estimate of your contributions, and what you will most likely get when you retire from them. They list your years of employment, and what you contributed. Mine is hilarious. I have two years of massive earnings, like six digits, then four years of zeroes. Some organizations just don’t value coasting.
Some would argue that stand up is a job. Those people aren’t funny. Its actually the easiest thing in the world, and its surprisingly close to being unemployed. Both financially and the amount of energy expended. But it does feed the need to travel, and the need to fill in my credit forms with Self Employed.
It’s a long path to the chair that my bones sink into today, but not that hard a trek, pretty level terrain.
I am dissipating electrical charge. I will find the path of least resistance, and so lies my destiny.
I have slept in past hundreds of appointments. I didn’t return thousands of calls. I ignored garbage bins of notices and requests, and a hard drive of emails went unopened.
How am I not homeless?
Its one of my biggest fears, every face I see with out stretched hand from its cardboard shelter, reflects a quality I possess in spades, mental instability, a love of Drugs, a lack of ability to maintain strong relationships with folks who might keep me from the concrete, and an insatiable sex drive. (well, I added that last one, but I’m not sure that leads to homelessness, or that the homeless are really horny. That last thought grosses me out a little, but makes me chuckle a little as I think about how on earth they would pick each other up).
But somehow I know I won’t ever be homeless. Why? I’ve had drug problems. I had an unholy dance with the bottle that lasted years. But I know I will never sleep in a cardboard box, or eat trash, unless it’s funny.
Cause I’m really, really fuckin lucky.
No foolin. It’s the only thing I have really become quite accepting of in my life, is that my luck will get me out of most any situation, except for the last one that I ever have.
How else can I explain it. I don’t try hard at anything. I don’t really commit to anything. I’m wishy-washy, I sleep too much and I have never broken a bone. Sure I use what I know, to increase my luck(FYI-good looks need be maintained, situational awareness, boldness and Voo-doo all help increase Luck)
I wasn’t always lucky. In fact I was downright unlucky at the beginning…
Fifth child of an ex-Pro hockey player failed business man, and his shrill uneven neurotic wife. I never had a stress free day as a child. I learned to worry at age 5, I didn’t stop until I discovered nitrous hoots and mushrooms at age 18.
My parents were born lucky, when apart. My mom was born to wealth. My dad to athletic talent. He would see his name on the Stanely cup. My mom was a part of the elite of Vancouver. Their marriage marked the end of that streak. Alcohol took over, four kids, serious bad business, cancer, and a baby(me) way too late in life.
And not just your average kid, 11 pounds worth of vagina stretching joy. They broke my collarbones to fit me out (doesn’t count as a broken bone, wasn’t born yet). An nothing a set of parents love more than a giant, sex wrecking baby late in their life.
So as a ten year afterthought and my parents into their forties, I was the kibosh on early retirement they always didn’t want. But hey, that’s no reason not to raise me all fucked up.
My dad absorbed extremist Catholicism with all the vigor and rationality of a fresh out of rehab vegetarian anti-smoker. It was a faith composed of ritual and little philosophy, endless prayer and statue worship balanced with random apparitions of Mary and insane interpretations of the book of Revelations. Everything a teenager who is just discovering girls needs to hear when he comes home.
My mom worked too much and as I found out years later was keeping that rollercoaster ride of mood swings alive with a healthy supply of pharmaceutical grade emotionally confuse your child pills in the form of Valium. Coming home to my mom was like battling a hydra in Dungeons and Dragons, you roll a twenty side dice to see which crazy head you have to deal with each day, is it weepy head that needs your help? Or is it vindictive head that tells you are fat and ugly, which at thirteen are great words to hear from your mother, or screamy-throwy-teary-pull your hair out-curse you-lock you out of the house head… but hey how else do you learn cake mixes, and chocolates are for mom only?
Needless to say I spent every hour I could growing up outside the home, getting brief longing glimpses into what seemed like normal families, wishing I was sleeping in a stable house, where people mostly smiled, where the milk was for the kids. Where parents talked optimistically about university and careers and wanted to help you follow your dreams, and be a part of your life.
All my childhood I was told the world was going to end and the chastisement was on its way. I am not kidding. At dinner, in the car, in the middle of the night so that my sleep would be sound and restful. Constantly this idea was re-enforced along with the simple syllogistic repercussions, that there was no point in additional learning, no point in dreaming, hoping. Just pray for forgiveness and hang out more with priests. On top of that they had no desire to help you do anything. All they ever wanted was more for them.
Jeezus, as I write it down, it really sucked. And I don’t even feel comfortable talking bout the violence. Yup, plenty of that. Neglect, oh sure. But I don’t want to dwell.
The only good thing I can say about my childhood, is nobody fucked me. Which is amazing, cause I did spend a lot of times with priests, but the one that I spent the most time with, turned out to be heterosexual… so much so, that he slept with a parishioners wife and was kicked out of the diocese… seems in retrospect they should have given him a reward for choosing pussy. Plus he was a really cool guy, played chess and mountain climbed, and I guess had a way with the ladies;)
How’s that for finding the silver lining?
I guess there is one other good thing owed to dysfunctional upbringing version 1980.0, it forced me and my siblings all to leave home really early. No Italian children here, all of us moved out on our own by 16 or seventeen, hell my sister got out at 15(stayed with a foster family, she got sick of my dad beating up her and her boyfriends, and throwing out her birth control pills, and even once, I am not kidding, having an exorcism performed on her!) It’s amazing she ever got layed as much as she did.
My brothers all got to beat my dad up when they left to, I am jealous of that. He was too old when I left. It would have just been mean. I guess I could have kicked out his cane, pulled him across the floor by his rosary, but I was too busy figuring out how to move out with no financial support of any kind.
But by some freak of Luck, or of will, we all turned out fuckin amazing. Especially considering the childhood, I would expect at least one criminal, or deadbeat or even a part time serial killer given what we went through, hell at the very least a flasher or a down and out skid row boozer, maybe a herion addict… these things all seem to come from families like mine. I mean a lot of the nicer families I grew up around, have some really shitty kids.
But no. We all did our own thing. And did it well.
The oldest is a world traveler, business man, smart, and responsible to a fault.
My sister is a great mom, nurse, and has an amazing life(read married well)
The middle child made a name for himself in basketball, then acting.
The second youngest, became overeducated multiple degrees, MBA, three kids and a life in the tropics.
Then Me. Uhm, I’m lucky.
I hated my hometown.
It was a tacky place full of tacky people, who talked to much about tacky things. I never belonged. It was a place where the highschool kids took steroids, not for sports but for the beach. And girls rewarded them for their hormonal bravery. Where hi-fives, and beer were the sacraments of debate, and the one thing that untied the community was homophobia.
Welcome to Kelowna, the redneck oasis of new money Albertans. A city with the clearest socio-economic line in the sand of any place I have ever seen. S.E. Hinton could not have come up with a bigger rivalry between wealth and poverty than the Rutland-Kelowna, conundrum. A disrespected impoverished community, inside a culturally empty financially boyant community… nothing good could come of this.
And I danced on both sides of those tracks, starting off in the posh side, only to spend years post dad’s poor business decision making skills in the Orchard ghetto, then to make a trip forever marked back to the side that was soo self righteous. Never really feeling like I belonged to either.
Oh well. It gets weirder. Come the end of high school this outsider started spending his summers a little south of Kelowna, down in Los Angeles in fact. As my brother was starring on a soap opera, I would leave my insulated valley to visit a place that people I knew didn’t think really existed.
So my insulated, outsider self, packed his finest Kelowna cloths, his hair gel, florescent Vaurnet glasses, checkered slip on Vans, and my blue headband, and headed to Southern California.
I arrived, and my bro picked me up at the airport, he was always a gregarious and fun host, but always doing something… always. The complete opposite of me in that respect. He can’t sit through movies or TV, he has a lot of my mom’s qualities that way, but generally directed to something positive rather than painting all the eyes of the pictures in the family albums black. We went straight to his place to drop off my bags in his Studio City loft, and then less than an hour later off to a party. I’m 16. It never crosses his mind that I’m 5 years underage, or a dork from kelowna, stuff like that just isn’t a problem. Lends me some cool clothes, bribes a doorman, problem solved.
My first trip to LA, I land, and in under four hours my brother took me to a party at a club thrown by Francis Ford Coppola at the hottest club in LA, I was just off a plane from Podunk Canada, and he promptly leaves me there to go chase down this chick he was supposed to meet. However this super nice girl took care of me, Justine Bateman, she thought that my brother was a bit of a jack ass, and I think she thought it was funny that I was so young and out of place, plus I was probably the least threatening guest in the entire joint. She was really quite wonderful introduced me around, then finally we took a seat at a table next to our hosts ,the Coppola’s, and had dinner.
My first 24 hours ever in LA, I had dinner with Francis Ford Coppola, a young Sophia Coppola and Justine Bateman, while my brother chased down some tail.
Needless to say, it was hard to go back to Kelowna. Kids didn’t really like me all that much in the first place, so when I mentioned how I spent my summer, it just got me ridiculed. Nobody believed me. They couldn’t. How could they believe I hung out over the summer with George Micheal? How could they ever understand that he had a crush on my brother, so he would take us out to win over his affections…they still thought he was straight. I met Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons from Kiss, I saw Andrew Dice Clay, I flew to Alabama to play in a celebrity softball game with all sorts of TV stars and music acts.
What I did for real on my summer vacation forever branded me as a liar in my high school. It got to the point where people didn’t believe my brother was my brother.
That’s when I first really started to realize the constraints people put on the way they look at the world. That quick dose of access to everything that seemed so very distant to them, made me realize how distorted small towns look at the world. And it made me realize I had to get the fuck out of dodge and fast.
It wasn’t just my parents telling me I couldn’t do what I wanted, I realized it was the city I lived in. the streetlights told me I couldn’t do that. The lake whispered that’s not realistic. The hills say, stay and learn to sell real estate. Yeah, you get it, Kelowna sucked.
I had brought a tape from LA of a comic I loved named Sam Kinison back with me, and along with a black Appetite for Destruction tape I educated myself as to rage, and disaffection. This immersion helped feed me and my good friend Lee with the fuel and drive to realize that we wanted to try and do Stand up Comedy. Lee was naturally very funny, and a master impressionist even at his age, which was about twenty, as he had been held back a number of years due to the fact that he was nearly totally blind. So we made an odd pair of jokers, this cherub faced stick boy at a gangly six three, and his full bearded blind friend, slipping onstage at restaurants to deliver poorly written impressions and absolutely filthy jokes to shocked eaters, and shamed friends.
But for some reason, we couldn’t stop.
Stand up was the first serious drug I ever tried. It was euphoric. Powerful. Hallucinogenic, scary and incredibly addictive.
I would dread and fear the approaching stage time, I would pace and cringe, my mind would race. Doubt, self hate, avalanches of shame and fear. Sometimes lasting days if I made a committal to a show too early. I would go over the jokes, trying to heighten the funny, courser words, stronger feelings, test it on friends, on Lee on strangers.
Then just before the show, I would worry about forgetting everything, nerves make your mind jump around, not ever focusing on any one thing, but you know you need to focus on the list, the jokes, what you prepared. So I would have a little drink. Well a Mickey. And the fear would still be there, but it would be a muttering fear speaking some damaged Irish that didn’t make the kind of clear sense the earlier fear that could annunciate made.
As soon as you step on stage everything stops. A second earlier you weren’t aware of the background or ambient noise in the room, but each step towards the microphone, leaves you with a topographical map of every auditory peak and valley, and you are now carrying the burden of the noise. Every second of silence, even before you start to speak, is a testament to your failure, so you race to plug the holes with the only two tools you have, your voice, and the crowds.
When you start in Comedy, you start to race when you speak. You can’t get the words out fast enough, anything to kill the pain of quiet judgment left in the pauses. When you pause, you gamble. A pause in a poor comics hands is a bad risk, as that pause is like scratching your nose when you are juggling knives. You need to learn to do it, but at what cost. A heckle? A disinterested crowd that starts talking, or even worse a scrutinizing crowd that locks itself even deeper into the comfortable objective stance of observation rather than participation. They could, and they did become that extension of my town, and they stared like the street signs, and said stop.
But then as time distorted, as it seemed like I had been standing under the three dim-colored pot lights, I said something that resonated. And new comedy ears are so hyper sensitive, a chuckle sounded like a chorus of angels pissing their pants. The endorphins flood the brain, I just evoked a reaction in a stranger, a reaction of glee of laughter… It was power. Power that a pimply faced, stick boy, with bad hair and a sweating problem never possessed. And it was that power that made me realize… someday. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next week. But someday, this drug, this power of Stand Up… would get me laid.