As I noted recently, comics after Jonathan Winters are off my screen. [Male ones, anyway, I know, if anything, even less about female stand-ups, but don’t have the same specific objections to them.] Nobody’s ever accused me of being humorless, so I don’t feel bad about this outlook at all. What surprises me is how much reinforcement my attitude has gotten over the years. I thought The Sophisticates was a huge indictment of all the stand-up society. When I first moved to Boston in the late ’70s, comedy clubs were undergoing quite the boom. So I went to a show, I don’t remember who. I found the atmosphere relentlessly icky. Making members of the audience uncomfortable and encouraging those who were yukking it up to look down on them was a clear component of the act. It was a divisive collective experience the opposite of what I enjoyed about music performances. The final conclusion I came to is that far too many comedians are like what I consider the utter worst kind of fiction writer — those who create feuds and disasters in their own life to use as raw material.
We’ve had more screw-ups with a Sunday Only Times this year than ever before by a huge margin. Today was a beaut — fractions of the Globe and NY Times scrambled together.
As I’ve said before, no young’un could ever imagine what a glorious medium newspaper comics were once upon a time if all they had to look at was today’s examples. Only “Mother Goose & Grimm” made me smile — and it got a slightly grotesque joke right. Other strips trying to be “edgy” were more strange and crude. And some are so sloppy and slight with the artwork as to sicken me. Like I say, if you want a prime example of an extinct form …
If you find a way to dress them up in new terms and spins.
- There’s a way to eat and eat and eat and not get fat.
- Big organizations and institutions can’t be understood by anybody.
- Gender roles are really in the genes and can’t be fundamentally changed, ever.
- The government is hiding some big secret about (pick one): UFOs and aliens; paranormal mind powers; why gun violence really happens.
- Being an asshole isn’t really being an asshole.
I think it was Anthony Bourdain who noted that certain business locations can become, well, cursed. No matter what opens in the space, it quickly goes out of business. This can last for years (maybe even forever), but it can also end.
This one corner spot on Beacon had been a superb convenience store for ages and ages. Then it got kinda outta touch and closed. The location became cursed and about four different operations tried to make it work;. The two I recall were the bad Asian gift shop with a misspelled word in its sign and a store that offered a strange mixture of plants and make-up products and never seemed to have staff that knew nearly enough about either. The spell broke when the space changed direction entirely and became a tres-hip Yoga center that won a Best of Boston award.
Only a block away was a very chic bicycle store that had a cool display of bikes on the roof (I don’t ride myself, so I never went inside), but seemed to do next to no business in the winter. It closed and has been replaced by a crushingly mediocre liquor store (that claims to have gourmet foods and cheese but I sure as hell didn’t see any).
Finally a salute to my late, great friend and editor at the Phoenix and Boston Globe, John Ferguson. The deeply authentic Irish pub where we held his Official Wake has been torn down to make way for another faceless glass tower. Especially sad because it helped me think about him many days when I drove past. He’s been gone for more than 13 years now. He was only 52.
When I was a kid, a drive through Yellowstone Park wasn’t complete unless you managed to feed a bear from the car. That’s what you thought if all you knew about bears was Yogi. My family knew that bears were unpredictable and dangerous, and so the windows stayed rolled up while we waited out the endless traffic back-ups caused by roadside bears. How could people be so stupid? Surly bears would sometimes smack the side of a car if they felt they weren’t getting fed enough, fast enough.
There were rumors that bear incidents were hushed up because they were bad for Park business, but nobody seemed to know for sure. I did know for sure that “Night of the Grizzlies” was predicted over and over for years before it happened.
Since I happen to be playing the LP tonight. I know I’ve written this before, but it needs repeating:
Elvis knows how rancid these tunes are. Imagining he has the power to refuse stuff he thinks is “below” him is the mistake some observers make. He was not operating from a position of traditional pop star command.
And, frankly, the on-the-cross live rendition of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” belongs on evey best-of.
“Are you lonesome tonight? I’m lonesome in a way nobody will ever begin to understand. Because I became Elvis before anyone else.”
Bill Clinton had a number of cowardly moments, but one that really stuck in my craw was the whole “didn’t inhale” garbage. The first POTUS to admit he was going to let the powerless rot in jail for ages because of a harmless “crime” he had committed himself. That’s a new level of hypocrisy and indifference to the weak.
I fell short when I forgot that there was a confessed tyrannical agenda behind these irrational “wars.” And I see how it worked. Operating in total ignorance, my parents thought maryjuana was Satan incarnated in a plant.