Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On Hiatus

Well...I woke up today and decided that I need a break from blogging.

Yes, I know you've all become dependent upon my steady stream of antisocial commentaries, nonsensical rants, and tales of bodily emissions and uncomfortable situations. Still, a man's gotta listen to his gut. And my gut says it wants a summer without having to entertain you ungrateful fucks. My gut says it wants more time inactively sitting on the couch getting aroused by Gossip Girl, 90210, and The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. My gut says it wants a beef, egg, and chicharon burrito from Chubbys. So, effective immediately, TheIronMike.com is on temporary hiatus.

Don't worry! This isn't a situation like Undeclared or Andy Richter Controls the Universe, where they say the show is on hiatus, then go and cancel it because of low ratings. TheIronMike.com is one of the most highly viewed web sites (within the southeastern portion of the West Washington Park area of Metropolitan Denver). It's also the basis for Ghost Road Press's newest book Spew, set to be released in early Fall. Yeah, it'll be a retread of all the shit you've already read, but it will be bound and it will have very sexy pictures of me (naked, and also bound).

I'll be back blogging sometime in August (if I live that long). Until then, buy my old book, Battery Acid For The Soul (it can be had used for as little as $2.75 - that's cheaper than a pack of generic cigarettes). Then, save your pennies for the arrival Spew. If you don't buy it, I will hunt you down and kill you and your children and your pets. Or, I'll just be sad.

Sorry to the bearer of such bad news, but I felt you deserved a heads up. It's better to blog out than to fade away. Fuck Neil Young and fuck substituting "blog" for words in notable quotes! That's all I got, for now.

You'll be fine!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Country Kike

I'll admit it - I love country music! You'd expect an East Coast Jewish kid from Miami to be the furthest thing from a shit-kickin' country fan. However, technically, I'm from the South - yes, a Semitic enclave of the South, but still more South than Nashville and Texas. And, I'm an agnostic Jew, which means that I can listen to all types of music, in addition to just Klezmer.

My love for country music is not ironic. I'm not one of those douchebags that thinks it's cool to sing Ring of Fire at karaoke bars. I'm not one of those hipsters that grows a wide mustache and wears country shirts because I think it's funny to jam to indie rock looking like Buffalo Bob from The Howdy Doody Show. No, I genuinely dig this shit. Always have.

Growing up, I was the only South Floridian that didn't have a Hispanic babysitter. My babysitter was a southern old lady, like June Carter Cash right before she died. She made me watch Hee Haw and The Mandrell Sisters and Mama's Family. She made me listen to Chet Atkins and Roy Acuff and Loretta Lynn. She also smelled like garlic, but it was worth the odor.

When I watched The Great Space Coaster before elementary school, they always ran those commercials for K-Tel's Country Music Story. I recognized the songs and I made my parents buy me the records. When we went to Disney World, I gravitated to The Country Bear Jamboree. That's where I felt at home.

I jerked off for the first time to Flo from Alice.

As I grew older, I got into Dylan and Neil Young and The Dead. They weren't really considered country artists, but they were country artists. I also started listening to The Pixies, Pavement, and REM. There was country in there too. You just had to look for it.

When I started blogging in '96, I gained my following by publishing to ween.com, on which I was cybersquatting. This was around the time when they did their 12 Golden Country Greats album with the Jordanaires. My readers, who didn't know Ween from their early punk rock glue-sniffing years, thought I was a country guy. Subsequently, they would send me CD after CD of alt-country. That's when I discovered Uncle Tupelo and Wilco and Whiskeytown and The Old 97's.

These days, I listen to to Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard and Hank Williams and Charlie Pride and Patsy Cline and Roger Clyne and Kenny Rogers (pre-plastic surgery) and Dolly Parton (pre-plastic surgery). The themes are the same themes of my life. I like to drink. I like tobacco. I like anonymous sex. No, I don't live in a trailer park, but I'd like to. I may or may not have several illegitimate children. I'm somewhat racist (only to Jews).

I do not listen to modern NASCAR Fox News country (Clint Black, Shania Twain, etc.). Modern country is not country music, it's disco with a twang. It's also gay. Chaps and Brokeback - not my in my country (or Miss California's). I also don't listen to Boulder country music (Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, etc.). I'll leave that to the Subaru-driving Whole Foods-shopping yoga moms.

I don't wear a cowboy hat either. Since I'm short and stout, it makes me look like a mushroom.

I hate people who say they love all music, except country. Come on! The lovelorn white trash. The roadhouse outlaws. The beer-soaked poets. It's America! Yes, I'm a Jew that loves country music. And believe it or not, I'm not the only country kike. Kinky Friedman is a country legend. Plus, Jesus, a common character in country music was Jewish. Shit, we essentially started this shit! Yee-hah!

By the way, if you take offense to my use of the term kike, kiss my grits!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Love College

Last weekend, I went to Boulder to see The Hold Steady at The Fox. Boulder is home to University of Colorado and subsequently, college kids galore. Even though most of the members of The Hold Steady are my age (in fact, I took Quaaludes with their lead singer in 1991, when I, myself, was in college), their show was packed with bright-eyed youngsters between the ages of 18 and 22. I have mixed feelings about all-ages shows. On one hand, you get to see beautiful young girls with gravity defying boobs that are never at your usual haunts. On the other hand, you have to deal with post-pubescent douchebags-in-training that haven't yet learned how to handle their liquor (not that I have, but still).

At this all-ages show, those douchebags-in-training were referring to me as "Professor". I thought this was some sort college slang for "old guy". Later though, I found out that I look almost exactly like one of CU's professors. I hoped it wasn't Ward Churchill. It wasn't. It was actually one Professor Quincy Miller, a sociology professor that teaches Sociology 101 for 2000 kids each semester, which means that the majority of CU's population had gone through his class at one point or another. Apparently, he's not a very cool guy, which made it all the more interesting to these kids that he/I was at this hip rock n' roll show.

Everybody wanted to buy him/me drinks. I'm not one to turn away free liquor, so I didn't correct them on their case of mistaken identity. As the shots of Jägermeister and Rumple Minze flowed through my system, I embraced my new identity. However, I wanted to change the students' perception of this guy. I got rowdy. I funneled beers. I smoked bowls. I moshed. I crowd surfed. I showed my testicles. It was an all out party and Professor Miller was the star. He/I became the Spuds Mackenzie of CU professors. With all this attention, I suddenly realized that I might like being a professor. Shit, all I'd have to do was teach a couple of classes during the day. Then, I could party like an undergrad all night.

The next day, in a cloudy fog of a hangover, I came up with the brilliant idea to give professoring a shot. So, I called up my buddy who teaches E-Business at The University of Denver and asked him if he needed anybody to lecture. You may laugh, but I am, after all, a successful entrepreneur and Web innovator. Plus, my buddy owed me a big favor (in return for getting him out of a bind involving a couple of midgets, a deer, and a late-model Buick).

He scheduled me for for the following Tuesday, which came a lot quicker than I'd expected. Just like when I was in college, I went out the night before my class and got ripped (yes, on a Monday). Just like when I was in college, I did absolutely nothing to prepare for my class. Why should I? I bullshitted my way through four years at UF, I could bullshit my way through 2 hours at DU. Anyway, how hard could it be to teach a bunch of young punks? Y'know what they say - those who can do, those who can't teach, and those who like looking at nubile co-eds teach college.

I put on my prescription-less horn-rimmed reading glasses, I put on my corduroy blazer with the suede patches, and I grew an academic looking beard. All of a sudden, I was Donald Sutherland in Animal House and I was Russell Johnson on Gilligan's Island. I looked good. And I sounded good too, for the first fifteen minutes. After that, I ran out of things to say. So, I did what any decent professor would do, I asked if anybody had any questions.

Instantly, my class turned on me. Despite my valiant efforts to sound smart, they knew I didn't know what the hell I was talking about. They questioned my credentials, they questioned my statistics, they questioned my assertion that I created The Times New Roman font, they questioned my assertion that it was my idea to put the colon between the http and the backslash backslash. It was bedlam. The more I floundered, the harder they hit. They asked questions like, "Do you even have a computer?" and "Why is my Daddy paying $42K a year for me to listen to your foolishness?". I almost got mauled when I left the classroom and went to the student union.

As I sat in The Union wearing a beret, rolling my own cigarettes, reading Nietzsche and texting my adviser, I realized that I don't want to become a professor. It's way more work than being a CEO. As a CEO, I have to tell people what to do. As a professor, I have to tell people things that make sense. Well, at least I could still party with the collegians, right?

That night, I went to the bar that I told my students to go to for my lecture after-party. It was empty. Nobody wanted hang out with this poor excuse for an educator. On the way home, I passed another bar and, lo and behold, sitting there with my entire class was a good looking older man doing shots and acting out scenes from The Pineapple Express. It was none other than Professor Quincy Miller, my doppelgänger. It seems that his reputation from the other night had spread from CU to DU and now everybody wanted to hang with him. Fucker! I went home with my tail between legs. From now on, I'll leave the academia to the academics.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Rebel Knell

There's this scene in the 1953 film, The Wild One, where, sitting on a motorcycle dressed in all leather, Marlon Brando is asked, "What're you rebelling against, Johnny?" He coyly responds, "Whaddya got?" If he were asked that same question today, he would probably answer, "I'm not sure." Our world has become so integrated and so progressive that there's really not much to rebel against. Rebellion, like Marlon Brando, is dead (but, not morbidly obese).

What happened to the race wars? What happened to the anti-war movement? What happened to abortion rights and gay rights? What happened feminism and drug legalization? What happened to the beatniks? What happened to the hippies? What happened to punk rock? I'll tell you what happened - all the whining worked. Everybody got what they wanted!

We got our president, a mulatto who may or may not have a Muslim past, proving that racism is no longer an issue. Our economy tanked, which made us pretty much forget the fact that we have two useless wars going on. Abortions are so legal we're being overrun with a deluge of random bloody fetuses. Gays are wearing fabulous tuxedos and denim pant suit wedding dresses in Iowa and Vermont, and more and more states are on the way. Women are considerably more powerful than men. Pot is basically decriminalized, and every other drug isn't worth fighting for.

Sure, everyone's broke, but that's not really a rallying point. It does suck, but you can't protest it. Yeah, yeah -- I know about Darfur, but it's too damn far away to really care. And the environment? Come on! That's a fucking pussy cause! It's also the hottest industry in a time when there are few industries that are hot. The environment will be just fine.

Everybody's content, except maybe the religious Republicans, but no one gives a shit about them. Religious Republicans wouldn't be rebellious anyway, they'd just be assholes.

I'm not saying there aren't people trying to be rebellious. In fact, if you didn't know better, you'd think our whole country has joined the underground. Upon closer examination though, you'd realize that it's a farce. Subcultures are the new mainstream. Rather than being domains for the disenfranchised, they've become actual franchises.

Hippie music used to be the soundtrack of those who turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. Now, bands like Phish and Dave Matthews and Widespread Panic are the soundtracks of suburban mothers and junior investment bankers. Hip-hop used to be a rally cry for inner-city kids kept down by The Man. Now, it tops every chart (including Christian Adult Contemporary) and it's about being The Man, not overthrowing The Man.

Punk rock used to be for angry malcontents that didn't fit in. Now, it's for pre-teen girls. The so-called punk rockers of today are good looking and talented. That's not rebellious or punk rock. The Ramones and The Sex Pistols were ugly and talentless. Also, these so-called punk rockers of today go to fashion shows and the Kids' Choice Awards. GG Allin would never go to the fucking Kids' Choice Awards!

Rebellion or, more appropriately, pseudo-rebellion has become a huge industry. Thanks, MTV! What was once Music Television is now a dumping ground for ads and product placements creating the illusion that mundane consumables are actually "subversive" or "extreme". They're not. Hot Topic and Urban Outfitters are in every mall perpetuating the myth that you can buy your way into non-conformity, which, through pervasiveness, becomes conformity.

Even shit that was once considered rebellious has become pussified. Tattoos are no longer statements of individuality, they're fashion accessories for middle-class middle-Americans. Same with piercings and mutilations. Harleys are no longer tough. They're now environmentally-friendly modes of transportation. Come on! Harleys were not intended to be green, except for Harleys that were painted the color green. Cigarettes, once the mainstay of rebellion, are now too expensive for rebels to embrace.

Because of Shephard Fairey, graffiti is now displayed in museums and galleries. Because of Johnny Knoxville and Tony Hawk, skateboarding has become gayer than rollerblading. Because of the Wii and the iPod, teenagers have become lame. Hell, there hasn't been a real school shooting in ten years.

We need to bring back rebellion. There's still still stuff to rage against. And I'm not talking about the new Facebook design either. Social networking should be called conformity networking. On Facebook and Twitter and MySpace, we're trying harder to fit in than ever. We create our profiles and make our posts with our "anti-establishment messages", but really we're just desperately pleading for acceptance. No, we need real causes.

Personally, I'm rebelling against shirt tucking and loafer wearing. Damn right! And this law against cell phone usage in the car without hands-free devices? It's total bullshit! I'm also rebelling against stupid people getting pregnant. The non-intelligentsia must stop breeding. They're bringing down our collective IQ and I, for one, won't stand for it.

And what about Jew rights? There are less Jews than Blacks and Hispanics. Why don't we get special treatment for college acceptance? And how come the Germans and Egyptians don't give us casinos like the Indians? We were enslaved AND persecuted. And why can't I get a minority-owned business designation? Jews are getting screwed. I may dress like a Hasidic to show solidarity for my downtrodden brothers and sisters.

Look, I guess it's good that we've made progress in our country. Still, it's really boring not having anything to fight for. The people of America need to get off their asses and fuck shit up. Then, and only then, will we deserve to consume the products of rebellion that are so prevalent in our society. Hear me roar, motherfucker!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm Goin' Hungry

Seriously, I'm fucking starving! It's not that I can't afford food and it's not that I don't like eating food. It's just that, living Denver, there's nothing to eat. Growing up in Miami, I was privy to fresh seafood, authentic Cuban food, and just about anything that could be transplanted from New York. When I lived in New York, it was New York - the cooks there shit deliciousness from their asses. Now, I live in Denver, which is to gastronomy what Fargo is to flood preparation. I know Denver's a cow town, but in a cow town, you'd at least expect a decent burger. Sadly, the burgers here make veggie burgers seem good.

The best Chinese food in Denver is Italian food with MSG. The best Italian food in Denver is Chinese food with meatballs. The best Sushi in Denver is a McDonald's Filet-O-Fish ordered rare. The best seafood in Denver is a McDonald's Filet-O-Fish. There's a Mexican joint on every corner, but strangely, none of them are better than our beloved Casa Bonita, which is known as much for its scantily clad male cliff divers as it is for giving diners severe diarrhea.

Recently, Denver's become home to numerous "gourmet" restaurants. Fine dining in a cow town is like a fat girl in a tight prom dress, it just doesn't fit. We are not Chicago or San Francisco or even Detroit. Anthony Bourdain doesn't know we exist. Stop opening restaurants that only serve beets and figs and foie gras. Who likes that shit anyway? If I'm gonna eat crap I don't like, I don't want to pay an exorbitant surcharge just because they put creme fraiche on top of it.

Fuck the bistros and the eateries and the gastropubs! What the hell happened to good ol' diners? I'll tell you what happened - SYSCO! No, not Cisco, the networking products company (although their routers are pretty tasty). Sysco, the food distributor, which supplies pre-made products to every diner in Denver. Unfortunately, everything they supply tastes like ass, especially their french fries. How hard is it to make good french fries? Apparently, harder than you'd think. If you see a Sysco truck in front of a restaurant, know that your fries will taste like lint-covered toes.

I can't even go to the chain restaurants. The best of them, Bennigan's was shut down because of the economy. I blame Bush! Benihana's doesn't taste nearly as good as it did when I was 12 and it makes you smell like you slept with an Asian hooker. I've worked at The Outback and I know what they make their steaks out of and I WILL NOT eat steaks at The Outback. Yes, Red Lobster rules, but for some reason, they only exist in remote suburbs, which I stay away from. Fast food isn't an option either. It hangs in my stomach for weeks, leaving me so gassy and bloated that I feel both pregnant and menopausal at the same time.

What the hell should I do to get my sustenance? Eat in?

Until I started watching Top Chef and Hell's Kitchen and Ace of Cakes, I didn't know where to cook Stove Top Stuffing and I didn't know how long to cook Minute Rice. Now, I'm a regular Emeril Lagasse, minus the ability to make things tasty. I say "Bam!" whenever I do anything in the kitchen and hope it will be magically delicious. It's not.

Everything I cook tastes like a rancorous blend of garlic, soy sauce, and spoiled mayonnaise, even eggs and sandwiches and egg sandwiches. I burn Ramen noodles and I freeze Cobb salads. I undercook chicken and I overcook soup. My barbecue skills are sub-par for a straight man - all char, no grill. If you like carcinogens on your brats, I'm your man. I'm such a bad cook, my dog won't even eat my food. She orders take-out!

So, eating out or eating in are not options. If I don't get a decent meal, I might wither down to nothing. Should I move to a city with better food? Should I get hooked up to an intravenous feeding machine? I don't know. All I know is that I'm fucking hungry. Help!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Poker I Damn Near Killed Her

Saturday morning, I decided to prove that my recent success at my monthly home game was not a fluke and that I was ready to become a semi-pro poker player. I drove 40 miles through the magnificent expanse of the Rocky Mountains and arrived at the dingy blight of excess and greed we call Black Hawk. Once there, I entered the ungolden gates of The Golden Gates Casino, where they were holding The Heartland Poker Tour (yes, I'm horrified that I live in what's termed as "the heartland").

I was about to play in a $340 satellite qualifier. If I finished in the top 20% of this game, I would be entered into the main event. If I made the final table of the main event, I would be on television and I would get a piece of the $750K prize pool. I would also be elevated to the status of semi-pro poker player and I would play in huge tournaments and I would win insane amounts of money and everybody would admire me for my poker playing abilities. Or, I wouldn't.

Either way, I woke up at 7:00 AM after a long night of drinking, put on a white tuxedo (don't judge me because I wear a white tuxedo when I play poker) and had high hopes for the day. Strangely, it didn't turn out as I'd planned. First, I had underestimated the effect of being hungover at 8000 feet. I was sick and I was gassy. Second, in my excitement over playing in a "major" poker tournament, I had forgotten how much I hate Black Hawk and the people that go there.

Despite the Indian sounding name, Black Hawk's casinos are not run by Native Americans. You'd be hard pressed to find a single redskin in this town. Black Hawk legalized gambling in 1990 as a way to promote historic preservation. Sure - bring in degenerates, compulsive gamblers, and alcoholics and they'll take care of the legacy of this old mining town. Or, they'll destroy it with exhaust, capitalism, and breakfast buffets. I don't know a single person that goes to Black Hawk to take in the history. It's through and through a gaming paradise. By gaming paradise, I mean it's the only place to legally bet for several hundred miles.

I used to play at a place called The Gun Rummy Club. It was an illegal underground operation in Denver. There were rumors of mafia involvement there and a couple of my fellow players inexplicably died. Plus, most of the people that worked there were assholes. Recently, the owners were indicted for racketeering and the joint was shut down. Even if it was still around, Black Hawk would probably be a better option for getting my game on.

Unfortunately, the casinos at Blackhawk smell like old person. Ever since they banned indoor smoking there, the stench has become magnified tenfold. In Colorado, senior citizens have nothing better to do than to gamble. It's not like they're going to rock climb or snowboard or mountain bike. So, the proprietors of assisted living facilities and senior centers caravan their residents up to "the hill" daily by the hundreds and seat them and their walkers in front of 5 cent slot machines. When they leave, their odor stays. I'm so revolted by it that I can't even eat the $5.99 Prime Rib.

So, hungrily, I registered for the game. Believe it or not, I, with my 75% gray head and wrinkles from 20 years of smoking, got ID'd. What does that say about the rest of the patrons in this town? With my "legal for gambling" wristband, I waited for the game to start. I also watched my adversaries register. Despite it's recent popularity, poker still draws an interesting crowd - rednecks with non-ironic mustaches and NASCAR jackets, Asians with broken English and multiple iPods, poker nerds with sunglasses and hoodies (which, by the way, DO NOT make you a better player). Not exactly my idea of party people.

At my monthly home game, I play with people I like (or can at least tolerate). We shoot the shit, tell jokes, make fun of each other, and play cards. It's enjoyable. At the casinos in Black Hawk, it's not like that. Why, in my right mind, would I choose to spend 5 hours with a bull dyke, a 70 year-old Vietnamese man, a mechanic with a mullet and a Broncos jersey, a woman in a handi-scooter with an oxygen tank, and a 21 year-old kid who thinks he rules the world? I do not know. I do, however, find ways to make this time more bearable.

I cheat. That's right, I peek at my neighbors' hands. I hide Aces in my sleeves. I mark the cards with a Sharpie. Usually, I get caught, but when I claim ignorance, they usually let me slide. I also accuse people of cheating. Nothing is more fun than losing a hand and loudly indicting the player that won for defiling the sacred rules of this age old game.

I fart too. Yes, sitting in tight quarters at a small table with people you don't know is a great opportunity to emit my flatulent scents. No one ever calls me on it. They just accept this as one of the handicaps of playing the game at a high altitude. I also hum and cough and breathe loudly and violently yelp for no reason. And, I create dirty euphemisms for every action that could possibly occur during the game (e.g. "sucking the lactating nipple" means raising the bet; "plugging the anal fistula" means folding a hand). I like destroying concentration and ruining fun for innocent people, especially when they are sitting at my poker table.

Armed with my arsenal of distractions, I was all set to play in The Heartland Poker Tour. On my second hand, I knocked out a guy that looked like Charles Manson (currently) with a nut flush I nabbed runner runner on the turn and the river (yeah, I know the fucking lingo!). Manson didn't like that one bit. He stood on the sidelines the rest of my time in the game staring at me like I was Vincent Bugliosi. Yikes!

I sat for another couple of hours upsetting everyone and waiting to make a move. The overweight woman across from me took an insulin shot at the table. Uh huh, she was treating with her diabetes while I was trying to play poker. Come on! Then, a cocky kid that thinks poker's cool because Ben Affleck plays tried to muscle me out when I had pocket kings. That little bitch learned his lesson. I was on fire. When I got ace queen suited, I was ready to put this tourney to bed. I went all in, hoping for a caller.

A "chick" that looked exactly like Billie Jean King (shit, it probably was Billie Jean King) called me. She had pocket fives. I was clearly in the lead, but hit nothing. Just like that, I was out. Everybody that had to deal with my boisterous behavior and malodorous ass emissions stood up and applauded. I grabbed my white tuxedo jacket and left the table angrily.

On my way home, I decided that I no longer wanted to become a semi-pro poker player. Forget the fact that I wasn't good enough to win a regional satellite qualifier. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life going to places like Black Hawk and spending time with people who annoy and sometimes downright scare me. I think I'm just going to stick with my monthly home game. It's closer, it's cheaper, and my friends don't bastardize me for trying to entertain myself during the tedium of the game.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Living Will

I've been thinking a lot about death lately. Not because I've already reached the statistical halfway point in my life. Not because the cigarettes I constantly smoke make that statistical halfway point actually a three quarter way point. Not because my devouring of fried food, avoidance of exercise, and functional alcoholism make that three quarter way point actually a nine tenth way point. No, the reason my thoughts have been focused on the expiration of existence is that I'm considering writing a living will.

According to Wikipedia, a living will "covers specific directives as to the course of treatment that is to be taken by caregivers should the principal be unable to give informed consent." Essentially, it allows me to call the shots if something terrible happens.

I need a living will because I want to be able to speak, even when I can only drool. I want power, even when I can't get a hard-on. I don't want anyone else making a decision about whether I should live or die. That's my call. If I can't shit on my own, I at least want to determine if I should breathe on my own.

For the most part, I'm going to opt in favor of pulling the plug. I'm lazy. There aren't many situations where it's easier to live than to die. Working isn't easier than collecting unemployment. Sitting through a post-1988 Eddie Murphy movie isn't easier than leaving the theater. Pleading guilty isn't easier than staying on house arrest in your $17 million dollar apartment (unless your name is Bernie Madoff, apparently).

So, my living will basically will be a list of situations that would make my life no longer worth living. For example, if I'm brain dead (not just from too many roofies), I'd like to be euthanized. Or, if I somehow become paralyzed Stephen Hawking-style, I'd like to be wheeled into traffic (despite what I may type with that little straw joystick thing). Or, if I'm in the late stages of Parkinson's disease, I'd like to be shot before I start making TV specials about optimism like Michael J. Fox.

Here are some other instances where, in my living will, I will ask to be put out of my misery:

- If I get post-nasal drip.
- If I become lactose intolerant. Seriously, if I can't eat cheese, I don't want to live.
- If I'm mauled by a chimp.
- If the government takes away the bonus I was promised for the work I did at AIG.
- If I go bald and shave my head like every fucking schmuck that lost his hair at 25, but still thinks he's tough.
- If The Jonas Brothers or Miley Cyrus or Fallout Boy release an album that is touted as, "actually very good" or "a well received departure".
- If I lose my ability to discern between good underground music and crappy music that was cleverly placed in the underground by corporate entities just so hipsters would be under the false impression that it is good underground music.
- If soon, dogs don't reach the next step in the evolutionary maturation process by walking upright.
- If I'm forced to attend an America's Next Top Model audition.
- If I find Jesus, if I start going to temple again, or if I even entertain the thought of hearing more about Scientology.
- If, after Bush's wrongs are a distant memory, I start saying that he was actually very intelligent (like everybody does with Nixon).
- If I start complaining that Obama is socializing our country. I've been to Cuba. We are not and we will never be a socialist country. Trust me!
- If I have a child who is a methface or a wideclops.
- If the press doesn't stop covering the Octomom or Nancy Grace doesn't shut the fuck up about the Tot Mom.
- If I become a lawyer.
- If I start wearing Dad Jeans or my wardrobe is strictly comprised of Tommy Bahama patterned shirts.
- If I start enjoying musical theater.
- If I wake up after a long night of drinking with this lady next to me.
- If I have to return to using MySpace.
- If whatever happened to Seal's face happens to my face.

You get the picture! Nobody should have to suffer through the aforementioned plagues. If you're my care giver, don't fuck around! Heed my living will. At the first site of anything on my list, pull the plug. If I'm not on life support, put me on it, then pull the plug. If that won't kill me, call Dr. Kevorkian's disciples and get them to do their murderous magic. If that doesn't work, put me in the ghetto wearing a racist sandwich board, like in Diehard 3. Or hire Fletch or that guy from No Country for Old Men. Just do what you gotta do. Or, don't. That's your call.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We All Gotta Duck

True story...last week, my mother was leaving Publix in Hollywood (Florida, not California) when she came across a woman who had to be at least 90 years-old. With a cane and a hunch and tattered shoes, the old lady was struggling to walk down the street. A sensitive liberal Jew, my mom felt bad. So, she pulled up next to her and asked if she needed a ride.

The old lady got in my mom's car and they drove to the bus station. Once the old lady got out, my mom felt like a saint. Twenty minutes later, at Walgreens paying for a prescription, she discovered that her wallet was gone. Soon, she discovered that her cell phone AND her Kindle were gone too. My mother had been burglarized by a seemingly helpless old lady she tried to help. Normally, I'd be exasperated. However, in this economy, nothing surprises me.

The government calls it a recession. That's putting it mildly. We're not receding, we're straight up bald! This is a depression, my friends. Our economy hasn't been in such turmoil since 1929. The Dow keeps dropping, people keep losing their jobs, nearly 20% of houses are in foreclosure, big business are closing their doors each day. This is a goddamn crisis! So yes, I understand when people go to great lengths to survive, even if those lengths involve robbing my sweet mums.

In their 1983 song "When The Shit Hits The Fan", The Circle Jerks sing, "In a sluggish economy inflation, recession, hits the Land of the Free. Standing on an employment line. Blame the government for hard times. We just get by, however we can. We all gotta duck when the shit hits the fan."

Fuck, man! The shit has hit the fan.

Our revered president thinks he can fix this. I love Barry-O as much as the next guy. Still, I'm not really counting on his plan. He's spending all the stimulus money on bank bailouts and highway construction. Maybe I'm wrong, but I never knew loan officers and construction workers to be big spenders. I was under the assumption that bankers were stingy and road laborers were criminals. Are these disparate demographics going to come together and all of a sudden rescue our financial markets? I doubt it.

Chairman of the Fed, Ben Bernanke (a Bush appointee) says the "recession" will be over by the end of 2009. It won't. It's gonna last for a long time. And things are only gonna get worse. It's my prediction that America will end up a third world country. Instead of doing the outsourcing, we're going to be outsourced to. We'll be the ones answering tech support calls for Indians, faking a Hindi accent, pretending our names are Sanjay or Padma. We'll be eating whatever we can afford - guinea pigs like in Peru, cats like in Vietnam, people like in New Guinea. We'll be illegally crossing the borders to get into Mexico so we can wash dishes at their American restaurants. It's possible!

Even if we don't become a third world country, it's gonna be tough. If unemployment keeps rising and people keep getting kicked out of their homes, we'll be living in shanty towns, like during the Great Depression. Will our shantys have wi-fi and digital cable? Will we pay for our shantys with interest-only loans? I do not know.

And if the government keeps spending money on fruitless stimulus packages, our deficit is going to get huge. This might make our debtors nervous. Will they break our collective legs if we don't pay the vig? Will they try to repossess our country? What if China calls our loans? Will they move in and make America its own? Will they force us to sing karaoke, drive slow, and indulge in bizarre sexual fetishes? Maybe.

Either way, if everybody's poor, a lot of things are gonna change. The homeless will have more competition for their panhandling pursuits. Liquor stores will sell out of MD 20/20 and Night Train. Potato sacks will become the newest fashion craze. Hobos will be angry that there's not enough room on the trains they're hopping. Most everyone will be angry, like Michael Douglas in Falling Down (that's actually good because McDonald's will be forced to start serving breakfast after ten).

The shit has hit the fan and the shit will continue hitting the fan until we're so covered in shit that we're like the little kid that jumps in the Porta-Potty in Slumdog Millionaire. We're gonna at least need some relief. Give us rations, like in Iraq (hell, we're worse off here than there). Open up the soup lines. Start dropping the free loaves of bread and the 5 lb. blocks of cheese. I love cheese. The only thing better than cheese is free cheese.

Maybe I'm exaggerating. My house hasn't been foreclosed on and my business is still thriving. I'm just sick and tired of reading about doom and gloom constantly. I can't stop writers from writing though. All I can do is join 'em. So, like Tracy Jordan when he was on Larry King, I'm feeding the fire. Good luck and duck!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Shitter

For the past year or so, all of my geek friends (and I have A LOT of geek friends) have been hounding me to join Twitter. I'm already on Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, MySpace, Bebo and every other social networking site that some starry-eyed entrepreneur launched during the great social networking gold rush of '05. I also blog, I use Flickr, I steal music and movies, I play online poker and Scrabble, and I'm addicted to Internet porn. Do I really need another way to waste my time in front of the computer? According to the growing legions of Twitterers, the answer is a resounding yes.

So, last week, I sat down and filled out a short form. The next thing you know, I, too, am a Twitterer. When I logged on to my Twitter homepage, I expected to find the greatest advancement in communication since speech. I expected to find the true meaning of cyber life. I expected to find Nirvana. I didn't. What I found was a tool for posting and reading status updates. That's it!

There's this scene in The Kids in the Hall's classic film Brain Candy, where a pharmacist announces his next big idea for a drug. In a large board room surrounded by executives, he proclaims, "Well, I've invented a pill that gives worms to ex-girlfriends." The CEO asks him what's positive about that and he responds, "Well, it's a pill that gives worms to ex-girlfriends." The CEO then asks him if it could also give worms to ex-boyfriends and he resolutely responds, "This is a drug for the world to give worms to ex-girlfriends!!" That's Twitter - it allows you to post and read status updates. Nothing more, nothing less.

Then why, you may ask, is everybody going so crazy over it? Well, I have this theory - Twitter is a cult. Don't believe me? The readers of your posts, which they refer to as tweets, are called "followers". When you're reading somebody else's tweets, you're "following". They also encourage you to "invite" followers and they "suggest" people you might follow. Isn't that how Scientology operates? Isn't that how Heaven's Gate convinced people to put on Nikes and jump on a comet? If Jim Jones hadn't sipped his own Kool-Aid, I'm pretty sure he'd be sipping the Twitter Kool-Aid.

Another, more plausible theory is that our celebrity-obsessed culture has made humans desperate for recognition and fame. From reality television to gossip blogs, the mainstream media has programmed us to believe that we're nobody unless we're somebody. Unfortunately, most people are either too lazy or too stupid to do anything worthy of recognition. With Twitter, they can just type in what they're thinking, and soon, somebody will know they exist. In their own little microcosm, they will become famous.

IMHO (yeah, I now use internet acronyms), the worst part about Twitter is that users are expected to tweet multiple times each day. There's even an "auto-nudge" feature that reminds you to tweet if you haven't done so in the previous 24 hours. Sadly, people tweet a helluva lot more than once every 24 hours. Who has all this time?? Where do people get a minute every ten minutes to post something? Maybe that's why our economy is in the shitter. Nobody's working, they're all tweeting.

Regardless, I don't care if you're Abraham Lincoln reincarnated as Keith Richards and you're banging the love child of Rosa Parks and Adolf Hitler, you're still not interesting enough to post thirty-eight updates a day. Subsequently, most tweets are mundane or redundant or just plain disturbing. For example:

"I'm walking from this room into the other room. Maybe later, I'll walk into another room."
"Angelina Jolie has a mustache. Did you see the picture everybody else blogged about 9 hours ago?"
"Bacon tastes better when marinated in human blood. Don't believe me? Try it! Virgin blood works best!"

Also, like Faceholes, Twitterers create and perpetuate idealized versions of themselves and their lives. Everybody is hip and intelligent and successful and happy in the Twittersphere. Nobody ever says they had a bad day because they have severe hemorrhoids and Preparation H just won't cut it. Nobody ever says their tastes in music and film are lame and they never read that book everybody's tweeting about about and, in fact, they haven't read a book since freshman year...of high school. Nobody ever says that their kid was recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, which is a relief because they thought he was just an asshole.

On Twitter, everything's great. We're not in a depression. Business is booming. Everyone's rich. Everyone travels to exotic destinations. Everyone's in love. Everyone's good looking. Nobody's marriage is about to crumble. Nobody's face is grossly deformed. Nobody's suicidal. Nobody's homicidal. Nobody just contracted syphilis. Nobody just masturbated. Nobody hates Jews. Come on! This isn't the real world. It's a stupid fantasy land Twitterers choose to live in, almost like Second Life or World of Warcraft. Twitterers don't see it that way though.

They see Twitter as this big technological revolution. They see Twitter as the future. The use words like microblogging or short-form journaling to describe their witless activity. Spoiler Alert: they're just posting and reading status updates. It's not a movement, it's a sham. Twitter is sort of like Pabst Blue Ribbon. PBR is a horrible beer that tastes like urine. Because of marketing and press, we've been convinced that it's cool. Now, everybody's drinking it.

Yes, Twitter is stupid. Does that mean I'm going to deactivate my account? Probably not. I, too, am an attention whore. My life is shit, but for a few brief moments, I like pretending that it's not. In 140 word increments, I can convince myself and my followers that I have something important to say. And, if I keep tweeting, maybe one day I could finally start a cult of my own. I'll call it The Branch Gellmidians!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Commie Whores

So we're sitting at Pekin, a dank dive we were lured to by a taxi driver who said the Buena Vista Social Club was playing there. In Havana, saying the Buena Vista Social Club is playing somewhere is a rouse to get English-speaking tourists (or fans of Wim Wenders) to follow you anywhere. Obviously, the legendary Cuban musicians were not playing playing at Pekin. Aside from a small man with a small guitar (which I'm not even sure he knew how to play), there was no music at this tiny watering hole.

Pekin was, in fact, a whore bar in Havana's Chinatown. Yes, they have a Chinatown in Havana, but strangely, no Chinese people. They also have lots of prostitutes in Havana, but strangely no brothels or strip bars. They do, however, have whore bars. What, you may ask, is a whore bar? Well, it's a place where prostitutes display their wares while waiting to get picked up. It's not sanctioned by the government, but it is tolerated. Cabbies often drop their unsuspecting fares at these dens of iniquity. We never told the cabbie we were interested in ladies of the night, but I guess we looked like we were. And I assume that if we partook in the pay-per-play action, the cabbie would have gotten spiffed.

I was with my wife and her friend and her friend's husband. It was our first night in Cuba, the forbidden fruit of travel destinations. Growing up in Miami, I'd always dreamed of visiting our Latin neighbor to the South. Because of some ridiculous embargo imposed by our imperialist government after Castro overthrew Batista in 1959, it's been illegal for us Americans to go to the island, which is less than 300 miles from my childhood home. While planning a trip to Playa Del Carmen for a wedding, I decided to give a big ol' Fuck You to the The Man and his stupid rules. Before Mexico, we would go to Havana, illegally.

I'd imagined Cuba as it was depicted in The Godfather Part II - loud salsa music, extravagant parties, Hyman Roth, and Fredo. It wasn't. I'd imagined it to be a mix between Vegas, South Beach, and New Orleans. It wasn't. It was actually a dirty and desperate land filled with whores, both male and female, forced to sell themselves because an idealistic dictator couldn't accept the fact that his utopian visions never came true.

Now don't get me wrong. I have nothing against whores. Shit, I love whores! I just don't like being in a place where the top occupation is whoring. And I'm not just talking about sex. In Cuba, whoring encompasses swindling, stealing, scamming, drugging, pimping and yes, banging. Because of the socialist economy, most Cubans make about $15 per month. To survive, whoring is the only option.

Before Pekin, we had been swindled no less than three times. First, my wife and her friend were forced into buying three mangos and an apple for thirty convertible pesos (forty bucks!). Then, my wife's friend's husband was conned into supplying mojitos and diapers to two guys claiming to be playing with the Buena Vista Social club that night. They weren't. Next, we were sold a box of fake Cuban cigars that tasted like they were sold at a Kum & Go in Greeley.

Getting suckered was our initiation. It was also our charity. The longer we were in Havana, the more we realized that these poor Cubans need our money. Unlike the Cubans that beat me up in high school, these Cubans are desperate. Even for us Americans, everything is really expensive. A meal, which is guaranteed to be sup-par could cost $200. Toilet paper and toothpaste are considered luxuries. Not much else is available and if it is, it's out of reach to the average Cuban. I felt bad for the communist pawns we came across. So, the swindling didn't hurt too bad.

After Pekin, we ended up at El Floridita (that's right, they have a web site), supposedly Hemingway's favorite bar. There, we drank with expats and travelers and learned the ways of survival in Cuba. First, stay away from the whore bars. We were with our wives, so that definitely made sense. But also, according to the seasoned johns, the prostitutes at whore bars are expensive. At regular bars though, the prostitutes could be had for a sandwich and a beer. Next, stop giving the locals money. Soap and pencils will suffice. Finally, don't eat, just drink. My wife disregarded this wisdom and spent the last couple of days in Havana on the toilet.

We left El Floridita chock full o' knowledge and ready to suck the marrow out of our fair destination. The next day, we found the real cigars, which were a little puff of heaven. We drank daiquiris at The Hotel Nacional. We found music that, while not played by the Buena Vista Social Club, sounded pretty damn good. We flirted with the prostitutes and we conned the con men. Cuba became what I hoped it would be.

Eventually, we began to understand this place. We understood why it was filled with great people that work the streets for bocadillos. We understood why grown men clamored for erasers and toys intended for small children. We understood why deodorant use was limited to once a week. We understood why stores had nothing to sell other than old toaster parts and crackers. We understood why Cuba had more scammers than Nigeria.

Castro and his followers are stubborn. They wanted to create an idealistic land where nobody is better than anybody else. Like the reality of an island filled with good looking hookers, this isn't as great as it sounds. Human nature dictates that individuals want to get ahead, or at least know it's a possibility. So, if doing that within the system is not possible, they're going to hit the black market with whatever they have - their genitals, their broken English, or their shitty cigars. That's Cuba, a nation of opportunists stripped of their ability to pursue opportunities.

For me though, I enjoyed being in a socialist state. There's something very refreshing about a lack of overt consumerism. I've been to some of the world's most remote destinations and I've found a Starbucks or a McDonald's. Not in Havana! On TV, they don't have commercials either. And, with the exception of propaganda, there are no billboards or ads littering the streets. Plus, because you can't make improvements to buildings without using overpriced government supplies, the whole country looks like it's stuck in the early sixties. Sure beats the gentrified subdivisions of our American inner cities.

Cuba ain't that bad. If you like whores and you don't like shopping and you don't need to eat much, follow my lead and embrace Castro's utopia. Don't worry about the embargo. We had no problem sneaking in and out. I even smuggled back some contraband (no, not whores). Viva la revolucion!

***Editor's Note: If you or anybody you know works for a government agency that busts people for illegally going to embargoed countries like Cuba, please remember that this posting is complete fiction. I've never gone to Havana and never will until the embargo is lifted. I also didn't urinate on the statue of Che Guevara in Vedado. Thanks.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Arguments in Favor of Obesity

Have you ever seen an overweight guy smiling and laughing, making you wonder why he's so happy? He is, after all, fat. Being fat sucks, right? In our society, that's the common misconception. However, in reality, it's not necessarily so. All we hear about in the press is how bad obesity is. Well, I'm here to argue that obesity is actually good.

If you're fat, you don't have to diet. In fact, you can eat whatever the hell you want. Steaks and sundaes and bacon and twinkies and mac and cheese and pudding. Go for it! What's the worst that'll happen? You'll get fatter? No one will notice. At the same time, if by some stroke of divine intervention, you lose weight, everyone will notice, and they'll make a big deal about it. Even if you only lose a few pounds, people will gush about how good you look.

Also, when you're heavy, you don't have to worry about buying nice clothes or taking care of yourself physically. Shit, you're fat no matter what you do. You don't have to go to the gym. You don't have to shop at expensive boutiques. You don't have to go to upscale salons. You don't have to brush your teeth. You don't have to wear deodorant.

Nobody blames you for being a slob. Nobody cares that you smell badly. Nobody ever tells you you look like shit. Nobody ever says you're putting on a few "el bees". That would be redundant. Nobody is jealous of you. Nobody hates on you. Nobody fucks with your game.

Then, there's love. If you're fat and you come across a chubby chaser, you're even hotter to them than a traditionally good looking person. And, if you're a chubby chaser and you're fat, life is great. Take your pick of the portly. Regardless, once you settle down, you'll know that your mate loves you for you, because it's definitely not your looks. That is, unless you have money. Then, at least you'll know you're being used and you can plan accordingly.

Because you were probably picked on as a child, you've grown some thick skin (literally and figuratively). After being called Tubby and Dumptruck and being compared to aircrafts and zoo animals, you've learned to be easygoing and to have a sunny disposition. Plus, if you're a guy, you've learned to kick some ass and if you're a girl, you've learned to give good head.

Famous fattys always have a blissful je ne se quois. Chris Farley, Artie Lange, Roseanne Barr, Kirstie Alley - they're all flabby and funny. Santa Claus defines jolly. Grimace puts a delightful purple face on our Big Macs and McNuggets. Michael Moore's the snarky voice of a generation. Oprah's Oprah. None of them seem to be sweating it (except Farley, he's dead).

Even if you're morbidly obese like Darlene Cates, the mother in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, life ain't too bad. You get all sorts of perks. You get upgraded to first class on airplanes. You get to sit in handicapped seating at the movie theater. If you'd like, you could live in a bed and get served, like royalty. Or, you could ride around town in a wheelchair/moped thingy. Man, I want one of those so bad!

Nobody should purge or starve or get their stomach stapled or undergo gastric bypass surgery. It's all a waste of time. If anorexics and bulimics would just take a look at the lives of the pudgy and podgy, they'd know that hefty is heavenly. They'd know that being fat is a footloose and fancy free existence of unbridled hedonism and sloppiness.

Unfortunately, I don't have the plump gene. So, no matter how hard I try, I'll never be like Dom DeLuise or Chef Paul Prudhomme (I can never tell those two apart). Oh how I wish I could be. I'd eat and drink and drool and sweat. I wouldn't worry about appearances and I wouldn't stress about upkeep. What a wonderfully full life that would be. I guess I'll just have to settle for sadly admiring the fat and happy. Godspeed, you blubbery whales!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

25 Random Facts

So, there's this 25 Random Facts thing that's overtaken Facebook. Essentially, it's a chain letter, like the early days of the Web or third grade (if you're a girl). Bored housewives and effeminate males and assorted other faceholes make a list of their "innermost" secrets, then they implore all their Facebook friends to read it.

Yeah, it's annoying and it's a waste of time. For the most part, the people who write these lists are the people you care least about. Still, you read and you read. Soon, you discover that everybody's trying to be quirky and clever and trying to show their friends just how great their lives are and how much they love their spouses and kids. Blah, blah, blah. Just what Facebook needs - another way to self-aggrandize.

"Hold on a second," you might be saying, "you're the king of self-aggrandizement with your wacky little blog! Who are you to judge?" I guess you're right. I guess I should play along with the rest of Facebook's narcissists and make one of those lists.

Fine! Twist my arm! Here are 25 Random Facts about Iron Mike. They're all completely and totally 100% true. Enjoy!

1. I once devoured a Filipino child just to prove I could.

2. Believe it or not, I've never used a computer. I dictate my e-mails to my assistant and have her surf the Web and give me a daily report.

3. I was born without a pancreas.

4. I hate Jewish people (myself included), I don't believe in Judaism, and I couldn't give a shit about Israel. Still, I covet my Semitic roots when I need to play the race card.

5. I've pleasured myself while watching Gossip Girl, 90210, AND The View.

6. I've saved every toenail clipping I've ever clipped since I was 15. Sometimes I spread them out on my bed and pretend I have hundreds of little people scratching my back

7. I enjoy taunting the elderly and infirmed.

8. I love my wife and my wife loves me (I think!?), but neither of us feel the need to gush about it in a stupid Facebook chain letter.

9. If it weren't for the Internet, I would be an adult bookstore regular. I'd also probably have several arrests for public masturbation.

10. I do not believe the children are our future.

11. For a while, every time I read about Hamas in the news, I thought they were talking about hummus. So, I thought all the fighting in The Gaza Strip was over chick peas and tahini.

12. I can run the 50 yard dash in 13 seconds. I can do 4 push ups. I can bench press 75 lbs.

13. Like Michael Phelps, I have smoked marijuana. Unlike Michael Phelps, I couldn't give a shit who knows.

14. Black women and lesbians love me.

15. I was a cutter, I had an eating disorder, and I was addicted to cocaine. Wait, that wasn't me. It was Lindsay Lohan.

16. My parents thought I was retarded until I was 4. They began thinking I was retarded again when I was 12, 19, and 33.

17. Over the past three years, my car has been keyed 18 times. I have no idea why.

18. On Top Chef, I think Gail is hotter than Padma. I'm kinda into Jenny on Flippin' Out and I'm strangely attracted to that Millionaire Matchmaker chick. I wouldn't touch Rachel Zoe with Tim Gunn's dick. Yes, I watch Bravo.

19. I'm not opposed to driving drunk, having unprotected sex, or smoking while pregnant.

20. Growing up, I didn't want to be a fireman, a baseball player, or a cowboy. I wanted to be a crooked politician, a doctor that illegally prescribes drugs, or a cell phone salesman.

21. I'm impervious to recessions, natural disasters, and the common cold.

22. I don't really write my blog. It's actually ghost written by a variety of people including Gore Vidal, Bob Woodward, Raul Castro, and Placido Domingo.

23. I have a fantastic perineum!

24. I'm really a very happy person. Ah, who am I kidding? I'm fucking miserable.

25. I've touched my dog in a manner some might deem inappropriate.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Strip It Good!

There's a common misconception among women that all men love strip clubs. Well, I'm one man that doesn't love strip clubs. I definitely don't hate them and, depending upon how much I've had to drink, I sometimes really, really, really like them. However, I don't love strip clubs.

Sure I love seeing tits and asses. Sure I love seeing young ladies humiliate themselves. But, the Internet can provide that without the puritanical laws that our beloved go go bars are held to. And human contact from naked girls? Well, that's nice, but there's a lot that comes along with it.

You have to be around said naked girls. Regardless of what they look like, they are strippers. They're the types of girls that go on shows like Rock/Flavor/Shot of Love, The Bachelor, and every other televised mecca for idiotic whores. Needless to say, they're not the sharpest heels on the shoe tree. For the most part, hearing them speak is like hearing nails on a chalkboard.

They always go on and on with their justifications for why they get nude for food. They're earning money to pay for grad school or law school or med school. They're raising seed capital to found a charity that helps children with cleft lips learn to smile. They're writing a dissertation on gender roles in post-feminist American society. They're trained actresses doing research for a Brechtian play about the burlesque arts of the twenties. Spoiler Alert - they're not.

When you speak with these "brilliant saints", you eventually discover that, at the ripe age of 21, they have eleven kids with thirteen different men. Or, they have a troubling addiction to a combination of Tylenol PM cut with Crystal Meth and chased with computer dust remover. Or, they dropped out of school at 12 and are too lazy to get a job that doesn't involve showing gash for cash.

In addition to being sub-par conversationalists, the ladies smell. That's right, these perfect specimens of the female form are malodorous. Makes sense - they're dancing around all night with their genitals hanging out. F.O. (Female Odor) is eventually going to rear it's ugly head. The ladies know this. So, they wear stripperfume.

Stripperfume is this strange scent that is seemingly only worn by exotic dancers. It's a rancorous mix of begonias, sweat, cigarettes, and bodily fluids. Quite simply, it smells like stripper. It hurts my nose and it makes me sneeze. By far the worst thing about stripperfume is that anytime you're within twenty feet of it, it sticks to your clothes and body and keeps you smelling of stripper for days. If you have a significant other, there is absolutely no way to hide the fact that you've been at a strip club. Not good.

Spolier Alert #2 - Strippers don't really like us. They just want our money. That's fine. They're capitalists like myself. Still, it's annoying when they're constantly asking you to buy them something or to give them cash for nothing. I have a wife at home for that. It's also annoying when you give in and get a private dance and there's a large man watching your hands and the dancer is watching her watch and you're watching your wallet. That's not titillating OR private.

Despite the strippers, a strip club could be lots of fun. Unfortunately, the proprietors of these establishments do everything in their power to keep that from happening. They charge exorbitant amounts of money for everything you could possibly consume. There's a strip club tax that adds at least 200% to the price of everything. A Beer is $14. A mixed drink is $25. ATM fees are $12. Nachos are $37.

No matter how much you spend though, you're still a second class citizen unless you have an expense account or a Middle Eastern friend, enabling you to get bottle service, go into the champagne room, or take home a stripper. If you don't have an expense account or a Middle Eastern friend, there's no reason to spend this kind of money at a titty bar. You will not have more fun. You will just be angry in the morning.

Strip clubs also have horrible DJs who are complete assholes that incessantly talk in that stupid strip club DJ drone and play cheesy music that no self respecting human should have to be subjected to during a military standoff, let alone a night out. Strip clubs also have strip club regulars - guys that go to these places every night and think they're something special for it. Look, you didn't solve Fermat's Last Theorem, you frequent a place called Teasy McDryhump's. Stop being a dick!

Occasionally, the strip clubs get visits from civilians. These are women that don't work there, but they think they're being so sexy and cool by going there. Spoiler Alert #3 - they're not. We like to go to strip clubs by ourselves, then go home and bang you. When you're there with us, you're an annoyance, not an added benefit. Although you act like you love it, you're just there to make sure we're not being too bad and to ease your paranoia when we're there alone in the future.

These are the same girls that take stripper exercise classes and have stripper poles in their houses, thinking we'll be turned on by them. We're not. Leave stripping to the professionals and relish your role as an amateur. Some guys, myself included, like amateurs better. We would rather see amateurs getting slutty at a regular bar than pros at the strip club. We would rather see natural boobs flop around National Geographic-style than lumps of of silicone standing in one place like Play-Doh. We would rather get suckered out of money with a marriage certificate than a strip club admission hand stamp.

So, with all the crap attached to it, you may ask why I ever go to strip clubs. Well, it's a rite of manhood. It's a bonding experience for guys to concurrently expose their sublimated misogyny in a controlled environment. Strip clubs allow us to add to our JOMB (jerk off memory bank) after we've exhausted the annals of the Internet. Strip clubs are a reminder of what we are or aren't missing by being in a committed relationship. It's fun to be in a place where no matter how obnoxious you are, you're not as obnoxious as the DJs or strip club regulars. It's fun to look at naked women, regardless of my aforementioned complaints. Plus, those $37 nachos are pretty damn good. Come to think of it, I do love strip clubs.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jammin' On The One

Denver, for all intents and purposes, is the Jam Band Capital of the World. I, like anybody with an iota of taste, knows that's nothing to be proud of. Still, it's better than being The Old Person Capital of the World like Miami of The Douchebag Capital of the World like LA.

On any given night in The Mile High City (emphasis on high), we host at least a dozen bands that the mainstream music community has never heard of or has chosen to ignore (rightfully so). These are not critical darlings that just haven't gotten their day in the sun. These are lame hippie throwbacks that, if we were guided by a merciful god, wouldn't see the light of day. They're the jam bands.

They play bluegrass and funk and jazz fusion and smooth jazz and whitewashed reggae and whitewashed blues and John Denver-esque folk and Bachman Turner Overdrive-esque rock. They play for 6 hours and complete no more than 4 or 5 songs. If their songs have lyrics, they're either vapid or ridiculous. They noodle and meander and attempt to make music. For the most part, they fail, delivering cacophonous noise that doesn't belong on the sound system in a head shop let alone on a stage. They defend their trash by calling it a jam.

Reminds me of a joke Jerry Garcia once told me: What's the difference between marmalade and jam? You can't marmalade your dick up an ass. Anyway...

The Grateful Dead is the grandfather of the jam band scene. Phish is the heir apparent. Widespread Panic is the red-headed stepchild. Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson are the young cousins. There are a whole bunch others that are less ubiquitous - The String Cheese Incident, Leftover Salmon, Moe, The Motet. Yup, they sound as lame as their names.

Believe it or not, I actually like The Dead. I even spent a summer or four on tour with them. Yes, I was young and stupid. Still, it was a great way to get laid, to do drugs, and to shirk responsibility. However, back then, the scene was different. The Dead was the scene. Now, it's evolved so far beyond The Dead that most Deadheads wouldn't even recognize the brown acid and glass bongs that these jam banders are sporting.

By far, the worst part of the Jam Band scene is the people. They're the bohemian bourgeois, which is essentially a paradox. The want to be liberally idealistic, but they're extremely materialistic. They want to take road trips, but they want to do it in Land Rovers. They claim to be environmentally conscious, but they engage in irresponsible consumerism and waste. They think that "being green" is the same as "smokes a lot of pot". They're the trustafarians that squander their parent's money. They're the yuppies that don't want to admit they've sold out.

Most of the guys look like the lead singer of The Spin Doctors. Most of the women look like the lead singer from The Black Crowes. They don't wear deodorant. It's not an accident or a moral stance. It's a fashion statement. Same goes for female underarm hair and and male dreadlocks. And the clothes? They travel the world (with their parent's money, of course) so they can get Guatemalan sweat pants or African dashikis. They're like débutantes that travel to Paris or Milan in search of haute couture dresses.

They claim to be tolerant, but they're extremely judgmental. If you're not like them, they'll shun you. They frown upon individuality and they all try to be the same. Douchebags are douchebags whether they wear knit hats or baseball caps. Airheaded hos are airheaded hos whether they wear sundresses or sorority sweatshirts. They all exist to get wasted, to hook up, and to make bad decisions. In a scene that preaches peace and love, you'd be surprised by how many fights break out at jam band shows. You'd be surprised by how many non-peaceful chemicals like crystal meth and cocaine are consumed. You'd be surprised by the hypocrisy and misogyny that exists.

I don't have delusions that the Summer of Love hippies were all that great. I understand that hippie and morally corrupt often go hand in hand. Still, these jam band kids piss me off. They take otherwise good bands and destroy them (The Flaming Lips, My Morning Jacket, Ween). They even destroyed a great band, The Jam, by adding negative connotations to their name. Their patronage of shitty acts keeps decent acts from getting stage time. Their obnoxious attitudes and greedy sensibilities make those of us that are actually disenfranchised and anti-establishment look bad.

I know there are lots of good people in the jam band scene too. They're just outnumbered by the rest. Chances are you'll see me at a hippie bar or a jam band show in the near future. Despite all my disdain for this scene, it's still better than going anywhere that plays techno or serves tapas. Plus, in Denver, I have nowhere else to go. Jam on, brothers and sisters!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Nose

At first glance, most people assume I was born with an abnormally shaped nose. They assume that I, like Owen Wilson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zach Braff, and other rhinitically-challenged folks, came from the womb with a natural nasal flaw that separates me from my normal-nosed brethren. Well, they're wrong.

I was born with a perfect nose. My nose was so perfect, in fact, that some thought it was blessed. Others thought it was magical. It's been said that my nose's perfection was capable of curing incurable ails. It's been said that my nose's perfection could make grown men weep. Gawkers would come from all over the world just for a peek at my beautiful beak. Obviously, though, my powerful proboscis is merely a memory now.

You see, even though I was blessed with a super snout, I still had to get an education like everybody else. I still had to pal around with peasants and I still had to live in a world where imperfection exists. Such is life. Along with my perfect nose, I had a big mouth. And, I liked to use that mouth quite a bit. I would talk shit. I would make fun of people. I would start fights. Then, just as I was about to get my ass kicked, my aggressor would get a glimpse of my magnificent muzzle and would retreat. This lasted through grade school, summer camp, and high school. Then, I went to college.

I thought I was going to an Ivy League college. Unfortunately, the admissions committees at those universities couldn't see my nose in the application. I should have attached a picture, but I didn't. So, when I got rejected from every Ivy, I went to the only school that had a one page application and would accept late applicants - The University of Wisconsin. Coming from Miami, I had no idea how cold it was there. Still, I went.

Throughout the Fall semester, I was my usual asshole self, but my nose kept me out of harm's way. Then, come Winter, something horrible happened. It was a drunken night. I'd met a cute girl at the bar. I knew that she had once urinated on my friend's bed, but I didn't care, I was about to get laid. So, The Urinator and I left the bar. We bundled up because it was so fucking frigid outside. I even covered my nose. Big mistake!

Walking home, we came upon three UW football players that I had provoked the night before. I'm not sure how they recognized me with my nose covered, but they did, and they wanted a piece of me. One grabbed my hair, the other grabbed my arms, and the other took aim at my face with a huge corn-fed fist. Boom! I was knocked out. When I awoke, the football players were gone and so was The Urinator. I was lying in the street, afraid for what kind of damage was done to me. I at least hoped the scarf over my nose had protected my best asset.

Slowly, I removed the scarf and felt around. Blood was everywhere and I could tell that my nose was fucked up. How fucked up I did not know. I nervously limped back to my dorm to find a mirror. What I saw was not pretty. My face was literally rearranged. My nose was dangling from the side of my right cheek. I looked like a Picasso and not in a good way. Because I was a dick and my nose could no longer do my bidding for me, I couldn't find anyone to take me to the hospital. So, I took a cab, alone. The doctor said he'd never seen anything like it.

Next thing you know, I was having plastic surgery, specifically rhinoplasty. It was the most painful shit ever. For some reason, the anesthesia didn't work while they rebroke my nose over and over (like I owed them money), they packed my sinuses with 30 feet of gauze (imagine the worst sinus headache you've had multiplied by 30), and they sculpted my cartilage and bone like it was clay (except clay doesn't have nerve endings). It would have been worth it if my nose would be back to its former glory. It wouldn't. My nose would always be a little bit off, even if the healing went well. It didn't.

After the surgery, I returned to school. I still had a big mouth except now, my nose couldn't protect me. Plus, all swollen and pathetic, I looked like an easy target. Every time I opened my mouth, I got punched in the nose. I wouldn't turn my music down in the middle of the night, so my meek neighbor punched me in the nose. I made fun of a Russian guy for being Russian (even though I'm actually of Russian lineage), so the Russian guy punched me in the nose. I complained that my sub was taking too long to make, so a Subway Sandwich Artist punched me in the nose. Soon, it was an epidemic. Everybody I'd piss off decided to punch me in my recovering nose.

Eventually, I figured out how not to get my proboscis punched. It was too late though. All of the nasal knocking during my healing process left me disfigured. Now, Instead of looking like a Greek god, I look like Karl Malden. Instead of charming people with my olfactory organ, I scare them. It's sad. Plus, I have sinusitis and I snore.

Is there a lesson to be learned from this story? Well, I guess you can say that if you have something great, don't put it at risk. Or, stay out of Wisconsin. Or, don't talk shit. Anyway, now you know why I have a big, crooked, hook nose more befitting of a Jew than my god-given schnozz.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Greed and Sloth

It was 1995. I was fresh out of college and I was living in New York. Because the economy was almost as bad as it is now, I couldn't find a real job. Plus, I really didn't like working. So, I got a gig bartending at a Mexican joint in Hell's Kitchen. It was called El Azteca, which I think is roughly translated to The Aztec.

People liked me there because I didn't know how to bartend and subsequently, I made ridiculously strong margaritas. Once word of my ineptitude got out to the alcoholics in the neighborhood, I had a steady stream of regulars. One of those regulars was a guy named Dan.

Dan was about 40. He said he had a hot girlfriend (despite the fact that I never saw her at the bar). He said he was really rich (despite the fact that he spent his days at a shitty bar in Hell's Kitchen). He said he was best friends with disgraced football star Mercury Morris (I didn't know who Mercury Morris was, but Dan said he was pretty cool). Dan tipped me well and he seemed to be an alright guy.

One day, he made me an offer. No, it wasn't a proposition for gay sex. It was, as Dan said, the opportunity of a lifetime. He said that he laundered money for the mafia and, because I seemed like I could be trusted, I could get involved and make some serious greenbacks (yes, he said greenbacks). All I had to do was give him my money, let him launder with it for a week and then he would return with double the money. After pondering the prospect for a while, I figured what the hell and I gave him my tips for the night. Sure enough, a week later, he returned with double my tips.

I was stoked. How lucky was I to meet up with this guy that could make me rich without having to do a thing? I figured this would be my job. I'd be a money launderer. I could do this for a year or so and I'd retire to the beach at 24 without ever having to get a real job. So, when my parent's rent check arrived (yes, my parents were still paying my rent), I cashed it and gave the proceeds to Dan. If all went according to plan, I'd have double my money back just in time to to pay my landlord and then I'd reinvest the rest.

A week later, I anxiously waited for Dan to arrive with my cash. He didn't. I called him and he told me he'd meet me somewhere. He didn't show. Then, he apologized and told me to meet him somewhere else. He didn't show again. This cat and mouse game continued for a a while. Eventually, Dan disappeared. So did my money. I never did meet Mercury Morris either.

I got conned. Sure it was only $1000, but when you're 23 in Manhattan and you all you can afford are generic cigarettes and Ramen noodles, it hurts. AND, I had to listen to my dad call me an idiot when he cut me another check so I wouldn't get evicted.

In retrospect, I don't blame Dan. I blame myself. I wanted money, but I didn't want to work for it. My judgment was blurred and I trusted a person and a concept that shouldn't have been trusted. I fell victim to my own greed and sloth. It sort of reminds me of the current state of our economy...

Over the past decade or so, a lot of things occurred that made it easy to make money without having to do much. The mortgage industry was deregulated, while real estate prices went through the roof. If you had half a brain, you could buy a house, then flip it and make a tidy profit. Or, you could get a job in brokerage or construction or anything else necessary to support the real estate boom.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence reached record highs and the stock market saw record gains. Credit card companies gave away credit with reckless abandon and hedge funds invested with reckless abandon. Yes, it was a time of endless opportunities. The problem was that most of the people that took advantage of these opportunities were not hard workers. They were lazy, but they wanted to be rich, or at least live like it.

When I was growing up, there was a very clear differentiation between the classes. If you worked hard (or you were born right, married right, or got lucky), you were rich. Everybody else was either middle class or poor. The rich people had nice cars, nice houses, designer clothes, and vacation homes. Everybody else didn't. Over the past decade or so, that changed. The rich, the middle class, and the poor, had the same things. The class lines had blurred.

College kids were driving Audis and BMWs. White trash resided in million dollar homes with state of the art home theaters. Bottle service was the de facto way to drink and high priced clubs in Vegas were the only place to drink. Every dude had a Panerai on his wrist and every chick had a diamond tennis bracelet on her wrist. Everybody summered in Ibiza or The Hamptons and everybody stayed at boutique hotels or in beach front vacation homes. It was like communism except everybody had money. Unfortunately, none of it was real. It was the result of undeserved wealth resulting from unbridled greed and sloth.

We all remember when the shit hit the fan. People stopped being able to pay their mortgages, which led to the fall of our financial institutions, which led to the tightening of credit, which led to the inability of consumers to spend, which led to record unemployment, which which led to the drop in the stock market, which led to trillions of dollars of lost wealth (it's a rough summation, I'm not an economist). Essentially, everybody got conned. None of the prosperity of the past decade or so was real, but we wanted to wanted to believe it was. Now, we're going to have to collectively listen to our dads call us idiots while they cut us new rent checks.

So what's going to happen? Well, the American economy is going to reset. No longer will everybody be rich. As more and more Madoff-esque hedge funds are exposed to be frauds that relied on America's false prosperity, even the rich won't be rich. Then, everybody will have to start over. The people who work hard are going to rise to the top. Those who are lazy will sink to the bottom. We'll all settle in to our respective places in society.

Our country is a meritocracy. If you want things, you gotta work for them. There's no free lunch (except from the Hare Krishnas, but then you have to talk to those freaks). If you want to sling margaritas at a bar in Hell's Kitchen, that's fine. Just don't expect to have an apartment that's featured on Cribs or a car that costs more than a house. Greed and sloth are a bad combination. If you want to have money, you gotta get off your fucking ass!

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there will be another bubble or another ponzi scheme or another wave of unreal prosperity that will allow us to slide back into our riches. Who knows what the new year will bring? Still, if I were a betting man (which I am), I would bet that the easiest way to get rich in "The New New New Economy" will be to get a good job, work hard at it, and save as much money as you possibly can. Or, you could wait for a guy named Dan to give you the opportunity to launder money for the mob.