Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Six Billion Choices

Monday June 28th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

Being a dented can has a tendency to bleed over into personal relationships of all kinds. Everyone from lovers to friendships to business contacts are included on that list. I’ve had big trust issues my whole life and that’s just how it is. I’m trying to work through it but if someone in my world sticks it to me or I think they do, I amputate them from my circle.

The way I look at it is if they do it once they’ll most likely do it again and that really has no appeal to me. There are six billion people roaming this planet and we all get to choose which of those we want to associate with on a daily or long term basis. I am learning to be pickier with whom I associate and I have to say I’m feeling good about it. I call the shots.

Lately I’ve been weeding out some of the leakers in my life and it’s not a negative thing at all. It’s actually kind of freeing because I know I don’t have to pretend I like them or be two faced about it. It is what it is. I know there are people who can’t stand me either and I like to know who they are so we can stay away from each other and avoid a useless fight.

Apparently my sister is one of those people. Whatever. That’s one I’m not thrilled about but again I did all I could to change that and she said no. I guess that’s my answer. I’ll just let it go and know I can’t win ‘em all. I tried my best and after that it’s on her. That’s life.

Well, that’s life for a dented can anyway. Maybe she sees no reason to talk to me and by me trying to contact her more that makes it worse. I give up. Now I have a couple of these situations going the other way where people are trying to contact me but I don’t want their energy anywhere near me so I just ignore it. Is that wrong of me? Maybe so, maybe not.

In my mind it’s the best way. It avoids an ugly scene and it stops me from blurting out a rude statement or five I’ll be sorry for later. Am I a social retard? I’d have to say yes but it comes from growing up as a dented can and never learning to argue nicely. All I saw were ugly brawls and they never got settled. I try to reason with people but many won’t listen.

When I do argue I can get nasty with the best of them and I really don’t enjoy that at all. I usually try to reason once or twice but then I end up letting loose and doing damage with my tongue that takes years if ever to repair. Not saying anything is my way to avoid all of the pain and negative energy that goes with a nasty feud. I just don’t want that in my life.

Two people I’m cutting out of my life are the ones who owe me money for the cars that I stupidly sold them on credit. That wasn’t smart business on my part and I take credit for much of it but I still want my money. I’m going to ask for it as politely as I can and move on and clip them both out of my life. They haven’t helped me until now so not a big loss.

The funny thing is when I’ve done this over the years I never end up missing them. I’ve got a large roster of wonderful friends I am able to count on and share favors with and I’ll continue to nurture those relationships. Out with the leakers and in with the keepers. Who needs to deal with someone who isn’t a winner? Not me. I have six billion other options.

This way of handling myself could totally come back and bite me in the ass but at least I don’t have to be a hypocrite. I don’t have to sit around pretending I like someone or agree with their moronic philosophies when I don’t. To me it’s a time saver and a way to cut the BS as quickly as possible. Unfortunately people don’t always look at it in the same way.

Hey, we’re all different. I respect that. I do try to give people the benefit of the doubt as much as possible and when I’m wrong I freely and loudly admit it. I don’t and never have claimed to be perfect and without faults myself but mistakes are one thing and differences of philosophy are quite another. Mistakes are totally forgivable but to me the other isn’t.

My ex business partner embezzling from me is a perfect example. He could have asked me for the money and I probably would have said yes in a heartbeat. Instead he made it an ugly revelation to have to discover and it still doesn’t sit well with me all this time later.

I need to be associated with a serpent like that? Nah. I pass. Those two comics are in the same boat in my eyes. They could have paid me back a long time ago or tried to arrange a way to not just let it sit there and fester but they didn’t and now I see no reason to go back and associate with them ever again. They’re not even funny comedians in the first place.

Do they have network shows they could hire me for? No. Will they get them? I doubt it. If they would I wouldn’t want to work with them anyway. That’s probably not very smart business on my part but I don’t care at this point. I’d rather be with quality people I like.

There’s also a local booker who’s been a total pain in the ass. I thought we had a decent relationship but last time I saw him he let loose with one of the most mean spirited hurtful comments I’ve heard in a long time. It was really painful and boorish and something right out of my father’s playbook. It still stings me to think about it and it isn’t blowing over.

Supposedly he heard about how it went over with me from someone who reads my blog and now he’s trying to call me but I really don’t want to talk to him and I certainly do not want to work his club anymore. I was booked there in two weeks but thankfully I’ve got a replacement gig that pays three times as much and I never have to work for him again.

I don’t have a problem with that at all but now it’s getting around to other comic friends of mine who are asking me what happened and I just don’t want to deal with it. That guy has a second rate club in a third rate part of town and it frees me to not have to go back.

Zanies has never treated me that way and I’m even more grateful than ever. Bert Haas is my exact opposite in that he can totally get through things like this without a hitch. He’s a politician all the way and I just don’t have those skills. I learn from Bert constantly and he handles ugly situations as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. I guess I have a long way to go.

I don’t want conflict in my life at this point. I’ve had too many good friends and people I like and respect and have never had any problems with and I still do. I want to spend my time growing those fruitful relationships but I have to trim my weeds too. This is difficult.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dubuque Was Delightful

Sunday June 28th, 2009 - Dubuque, IA/Lake Villa, IL

I really enjoyed my experience in Dubuque. I’ve worked there before but not in a casino situation and this one was top notch all the way. There’s a Hilton Garden Inn right next to the casino and I thought it was especially well run in all areas. It was spotlessly clean with friendly staff people all around and the breakfast set up was one of the best I’ve ever seen.

Things like that make a huge difference to someone like me who has spent a lifetime on the road. Great service stands out and I was really impressed with both the hotel and show arrangements and I hope this gig lasts a while. They haven’t been doing comedy that long and I’ve seen sweet gigs like this get ruined in a short time by comics who can’t behave.

It’s amazing how often I’ve seen that happen over the years. A gig starts up and the first time through it’s paradise. The staff is happy to have comedy and they go out of their way to try and please the comics. The accommodations are spectacular and they have free food and an open bar and the waitresses are sexy and friendly and everything feels like Vegas.

Then like locusts comics come through and abuse everything and the next time through it’s a completely different story. The hotel situation is usually changed and we’re now at a flea bag down the road with a numeral in the title. NO free drinks of any kind because the second week in a pair of flaming alkies came in and sucked up all the expensive hooch.

NO meals anymore either because they ordered the steak and lobster for themselves and didn’t even eat it all and they also tried to scam free meals for their wives, girlfriends, six kids and a table of cousins who live in town that they invited to the show - also for free.

The waitresses have been hit on so much they won’t even look in our direction if we are having a fatal seizure and the bar staff is fed up because they keep getting asked to be like personal valets to cater to every comic’s whim and then the comics don’t even tip them.

I wish I was exaggerating but I’ve seen many a sweet gig devolve into a nightmare in a short period of time. I hope this one doesn’t because it’s close to Chicago and it’s always nice to have decent work close to home. The days of driving to Phoenix are over, at least for me. I’ll either fly or not go. I don’t need the experience anymore, I need the money.

That was my focus on my drive back home this morning. The weather was perfect and I was in a thinking mood. I left my radio off as I let my brain spin like a blender on ‘puree‘. It’s a beautiful drive on US Highway 20 and I allowed myself to enjoy every mile of it as I wrote down any and all ideas that rolled around in my head. That speeds up the drive.

I stopped at Jerry Agar’s house for a while because it was right on my way and we ran a few more ideas by each other. He and I both thought we’d be cruising along on a big time radio career and we should be but we’re not. He needs to find a full time job because he’s got a family to feed. I’m in it for fun at this point. I had a lot of that in Kenosha tonight on the Mothership Connection on WLIP. I could use a few more fun weeks like this in a row.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Reaching My Jackson Limit

Saturday June 27th, 2009 - Dubuque, IA

Enough with the Michael Jackson thing already. OK, he was a great entertainer. One of a kind. Bigger than Elvis. I don’t have a problem with that. I’m sad for the family and for the miserable life he must have had under the thumb of his slave driving ogre of a father.

I’m sorry if he became addicted to prescription drugs and I’m really sorry if he actually did those horrible things he was accused of in court. Only a few people actually know that for a fact and if indeed he did do them I’m sure it’s part of the equation of wherever he is.

Other than that, PLEASE stop covering it in the media. I’m not a major TV watcher but if I do decide to take a run through the channels I can’t avoid seeing it on every single one of the news channels in my hotel room and the more I see it the more sick of it all I get.

Why wasn’t it Jesse Jackson instead of Michael? How the hell does that snake continue to fool people into putting him on the air? Al Sharpton too. If those two clowns aren’t the biggest racists of all I don’t know who is. They’re doing more to agitate race relations and cause division than anyone else but they’re both called ‘Reverend’ and treated like kings.

I can’t watch it anymore but it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon. This is a bigger deal than Elvis’s death which was also sad but no real surprise. This is the part of the human experience that disgusts me so much. Everyone sucked what they could from a Michael Jackson or Elvis and then left their hollow carcasses to rot like a milked out cow.

Let the guy rest already. Hasn’t he suffered enough? How about letting the family figure out how to handle the funeral arrangements and what to do with his three kids? Is it really necessary to stick a mike in front of Al Sharpton? Does anyone care what he thinks about anything? I sure don’t and Jesse Jackson is worse. They’re both as useful as tits on a bull.

The more I see all this the happier I am I’m not famous. That’s all I would need when I die is some imbecile prattling on about nothing in the media and ruining whatever success and good memories I’d worked a lifetime to create. I think Michael Jackson was one of a kind and amazingly talented but all these half ass tributes are turning it all into a circus.

If I’m lucky when I croak there might be a little blurb in the back of the local paper with the lost dog ads and car parts for sale and I’ll be happy to get that. Most people live out an entire lifetime in complete obscurity. Michael Jackson and Elvis were the exact opposites.

All of this makes me more and more grateful for what I have, even if it’s not wealth and fame like I always thought I wanted. Whatever I’ve gotten has been on MY terms and I’m able to survive and still call my own shots. Michael Jackson was trapped in a lot of ways.

There has to be a happy medium in the mix somewhere, doesn’t there? Does somebody have creative control and financial resources but is still able to be free and enjoy life once in a while? I have to believe there is and if there isn’t I want it to be me. That’s success.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Enjoying My Invisibility

Friday June 26th, 2009 - Dubuque, IA

After getting drenched by Michael Jackson’s media monsoon most of the morning I feel pretty good about my own life right now. The more I hear the more I think his death was a blessing. He was the life source of countless bloodsuckers, parasites and human leeches.

It’s amazing how everybody seems to want to be ‘the one’ in any particular field but the very few that actually do achieve it are tortured lonely souls who usually die way too soon and never peacefully. I don’t think the human spirit was made for world wide notoriety.

There has to be a balance and once in a while I think any celebrity type has to be at least a little bit like a normal person. Getting recognized everywhere on earth has to be a pretty difficult cross to bear for anyone and I’m sure some handle it better than others. I wonder if I’d be able to handle it all day every day for years and years? That would get to anyone.

I get recognized from time to time but nowhere near enough to call it fame. Most times the people are extremely nice and only want to tell me they enjoyed my show and it made them laugh. What comedian wouldn’t want to hear that? I never mind it and always try to make the person who says it feel at ease. I really am grateful so hopefully they see that.

But when the brief exchange is done I can continue walking in public and eventually it dies down, usually way sooner than later. Then I can blend in with every other run of the mill average Joe and rarely will I get noticed until after the next show somewhere else. It hasn’t ever been to the point of not being able to go outside but real fame has that cost.

Michael Jackson couldn’t go out and hang at the car auction or a baseball card show or anywhere else I like to go and don’t even think about it. If I do get recognized it’s positive and usually just a nod or wave or very brief exchange of words. Unfortunately I’ve never had any throngs of teenage girls swoon and faint when I walked by. That’s disappointing.

Or is it? Tonight I had a fun show in Dubuque, IA. I’m working with one of my former students Steve Purcell from Madison, WI. Steve has really used the class for what it’s for. He does comedy when he can but he has a wife and two daughters at home and a day job.

We’re working at the Mystic Casino and it’s a very nice place. The room we perform in is beautiful and the staff couldn’t be any nicer to us. We did our show tonight and a lot of people came up to us and told us they loved it and shook our hands and it was a small part of our day. After a few minutes everyone trickled out and we walked to the restaurant.

We sat and visited and ate our meal in peace and had a very fun time. I mentioned that a small event like this would have probably made Michael Jackson or Elvis jealous because they couldn’t do it without causing a mob scene. Our meals tasted pretty good after that.

I guess nobody has everything they totally want and that includes the biggest of the big. I may not be a mega star but at least I can have fun doing a show and then go have a meal.

One Big Time News Day

Thursday June 25th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

If anyone asked anyone else “What’s new?” today and heard the usual robot response of “Not much,” they’d have been talking to a liar. What an eventful day today was, probably one of the biggest of the last decade at least if not the century, and I’m talking since 1909.

Farrah Fawcett’s death wasn’t necessarily shocking but it was major news. I know she’d been sick for a while but hearing she passed was a stunner anyway. For my generation she was one of if not THE sex goddess of our era. I can still picture her on that poster. Yeow!

Growing up in Milwaukee they just didn’t make women like that there. Wherever DNA like that was being thrown around that’s where I wanted to move. Not that I’d have a hint of a chance with her but I wanted to at least see her in person to make sure she was real.

I collected autographs for many years and I sent a request to Farrah Fawcett but I never really expected to get a response. I figured it would be worth risking a stamp and the time to write the letter so I rolled the dice and gave it a shot. I remember trying to be funny so I wouldn’t look like a complete ass or worse yet a stalker. I’m sure she had plenty of those.

I remember opening the envelope and not recognizing the return address at first. I’d had many of those because I sent a lot of requests out but when I pulled out the 8x10 that said ‘To Dobie: Fond Regards, Farrah Fawcett’ I thought my eyes were going to bug out of my head. I couldn’t believe I got a response from her. She even had sexy handwriting. Yeow!

Over the years I acquired quite a few celebrity 8x10s from people like Cindy Crawford and George Burns and Don Rickles and many sports figures, media personalities and lots of other celebrities big and small. I had quite a nice collection until I moved to Utah for a radio gig and ended up buying a house. My basement flooded and I lost all of my 8x10s.

Hearing of Farrah Fawcett’s death reminded me of all that but my problems aren’t even close to what hers were. I lost some photographs in a flood. She had cancer of the anus. In a contest of who has it worse I wouldn’t get a single vote. Not even from me. She wins.

What a horrific way to have to die. It sounds so torturously painful. Colon cancer is bad enough but ‘cancer of the anus’ takes it one step farther and sounds downright surreal. It’s something I might jokingly wish on a heckler because it sounds so comically exaggerated. It doesn’t sound real so that’s why I’d say it. It sounds more like a Marilyn Manson CD.

Everyone dreams of having fame and money and good looks and Farrah Fawcett had all of those. Her looks got her noticed and the rest followed and most people never have that opportunity. Again, life isn’t fair and nobody ever said it was going to be. She had it all.

Then at the end of her life the tides turned a little. She got older and her looks faded but only a little. She was still quite a scorcher and most 62 year old guys would love a shot at a woman their age that looks like her. What a sad story and I hope she’s free of pain now.

That was a pretty big story and combined with the NBA draft it would have been a busy news day but then the bombshell dropped and Michael Jackson died. That still seems odd to read as I type it but apparently it’s true. It was on every news network the whole night.

Farrah Fawcett was a major star of her era and had a fantastic career but she only lasted a couple of hours in the spotlight before the big story came in and wiped out everything in it’s path. This story is going to rival the death of Elvis and be talked about world wide.

I was checking my emails and someone had added me as a friend on Facebook. I looked at the friends list and someone wrote ‘Michael Jackson has died’. I did a double take for a second because it seemed so strange to read that at first. Then I turned on CNN and it was just starting to break. What a shocker in some ways but in others it was totally expected.

It might sound cruel but I for one am glad Michael Jackson is dead. He was the ultimate dented can and maybe now he can finally find some peace and happiness and love and all the stuff we dented cans are missing. He made millions of others happy all over the world but at the end of the day I’ll bet he lived a lonely life. Wealth and fame didn’t save him.

I’ve always liked Michael Jackson’s music and to this day Thriller is still one of my all time favorite albums. In the ‘80s it was hard to turn on a radio and not hear something by or about Michael Jackson on any station. He was more than a singer. He was pop culture.

It always bothered me to hear him talk about his childhood in interviews. His father was a mean bastard much like I remember mine and he forced all those kids to practice music not because it was fun but because he wanted to use them to get himself out of the ghetto.

I can’t be a judge of how or why his father did that but it sure did have a negative affect on Michael for his whole life. He was used and abused and turned into a freak show by an array of people who just wanted to squeeze money out of him. Yes, he had amazing talent and loved performing and made untold millions but that never did buy him a childhood.

His fans will always have his work to enjoy and he had a large body of it. He was one of the innovators of the MTV era and videos are still doing what he did in 1982. He had one of if not the best runs in show business history. Elvis was great but didn’t do it worldwide like Michael did. I can’t think of a bigger single act with more worldwide fame in history.

Everyone in the entertainment business dreams of a career like Michael or Elvis but it’s too much for anyone to handle that much fame in my opinion. The Beatles at least had the advantage of being able to share it with each other. Michael and Elvis became prisoners.

As one dented can and human being to another I really was glad in a way to hear that he died. It seemed to be sudden even though it had been building for 50 years. I hope he isn’t feeling pain just like I wish that for Farrah Fawcett. And Elvis. And anyone else who had to be the flavor of the generation that worshipped them. It wasn’t easy and I hope he now gets a chance to heal some of that pain. Maybe now he‘ll get to finally have a childhood.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

There's Always Baseball

Wednesday June 24th, 2009 - Milwaukee, WI

Sometimes a hot sweaty humid night at the ball game can be a refreshing mental enema if nothing else. It was ripe and funky the whole evening up at Miller Park as I watched the Milwaukee Brewers finally beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3 in exciting dramatic fashion.

My friend Tony Dunagin has a twenty game season ticket package and asked me to pick a game out of a few he had open. That was extremely nice of him and I took him up on it. Tonight was the game I chose and it couldn’t have been better. It was an exciting victory.

Tony and I were talking about how we hooked up many years ago. He was interested in promoting rock bands and I was already promoting pro wrestling shows in the Milwaukee area. I had an office on Howell Avenue near the airport and he walked in one day and was a good guy and we became friends. That was around 1992 and we’ve stayed in contact.

He and his wife have come to see me perform when I’m in town and he’s just a regular hard working good guy. He used to work at K Mart for years and now he works for a mail order furniture business of all things. He said it’s doing well and he seems to like his job.

Tony is a perfect example of how to network effectively. He came to me years ago and I liked the guy from the start. He never bugged me but he did stay in contact regularly even though we technically never really did any one on one business deals together. He always had a knack for not being a pest and that in itself is a skill. I always admired his method.

As I moved out of the wrestling business and into radio and started to travel more over the years we weren’t in touch as often but then the internet came around and we hooked up again. We’d take turns buying lunches once in a while but there was never any kind of heavy sales pitches or anything like that. He was just a good guy to hang with and chat.

Tonight was really enjoyable. He’s very knowledgeable about sports and also the inner workings of rock bands and promoting shows and we had a very interesting time between talking of all that and watching a super exciting baseball game. It was good summer fun.

There were a ton of gorgeous women walking around and a lot of them were Minnesota fans. They’re known for their hot blondies and there were a bumper crop on hand tonight for all the men to enjoy. The hot muggy night turned the entire stadium into a wet t-shirt contest but nobody I saw was complaining. These weren’t the local cows I remembered.

I will say there is something hilariously funny about a well endowed Minnesota fan who has a halter top that says ‘Twins’ written across the chest. I wonder if the team knows just how funny that really is. I couldn’t stop laughing about it but I still kept my eyes peeled.

This was a really fun and relaxing night even with the humid weather. Tony is very nice to have invited me to the game and I totally appreciate it. Baseball may be full of steroids and liars and cheats but the game itself is still great. This is why people keep showing up.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Too Nice Twice

Tuesday June 23rd, 2009 - Chicago, IL

Nice guys really do finish last. I know it all too well, because unfortunately that‘s been my result way too many times. I have always had a giving heart and even as a kid sharing whatever I had was never a problem. Deep down I’m a giver and I’d rather do without for myself than have someone else in need or even want. I really do try to try to sacrifice self.

That doesn’t mean I think I’m better than anyone else but I do think there are people for whatever reason that don’t think the way I do. I’ve been bitten in the ass many times and I am really starting to get sick of it. My patience is thin and I have to toughen my attitude.

Maybe this is a lesson I needed to learn long ago but I’m getting the message really loud and clear lately and it’s not very pleasant. I’m sick of being a human urinal cake to certain people and I have to send out a different vibe, especially when it comes to money issues.

There are two current instances I can think of that are really festering in my ass. Both of them involve comedians and both involve cars. Both also involve unpaid money that I am owed and have been for way too long in my opinion. It’s my fault and I take full blame.

Most people who know me know I like to wheel and deal cars I buy at the auction. I like cars and I like auctions and I’ve had harmless fun with it for years. No big deal but I made the huge mistake of ‘selling’ two of my tin cans on credit to each one of these comedians.

Both wanted a car for their kid and both SWORE they’d pay me ‘as soon as possible’. If I said that to someone I know in my heart I’d either DO it or make arrangements of how it could get done at a reasonable time. That’s me. It sure hasn’t been either one of these two.

Granted, it was I who was stupid enough to give them the cars and clear titles without so much as an I.O.U. but I trusted each of them and I technically didn’t really need either the cars or the money at the time but it’s been way too long and I can really use the cash now.

One of the louts was one of the Chicago Style Standups of which I was a member. I was trying to help him out and ‘be nice’ but he knew all along he wouldn’t pay me. He’s had a checkered past with some bookers he hasn’t paid commissions to for years and it’s lost an enormous amount of work for him too. I didn’t find that out until after he stuck it to me.

Again, that’s my fault and I admit it but it doesn’t take any of the hurt away. It ended up being the main reason I dropped out of Chicago Style Standups and he’s never tried to get it taken care of. He seems to have plenty of cash to buy bags of marijuana to smoke at age 62 or whatever he is and that’s what really infuriates me. I‘m being totally disrespected.

If someone wants to live like a vagrant in his 60s and wake and bake every morning that isn’t the kind of guy I want to associate with professionally or personally. I used to have a high opinion of him as a comic but then I got to know him and see how he handles all his business and it lost me for good. I made a huge mistake by trusting him with the car deal.

The other one was very similar. It was a guy I met on the road and he said he was also a dented can and had a rough childhood and he wanted to get a car for his son in Texas who just turned sixteen. I know what it’s like to be a sixteen year old kid who craves to have a relationship with his father and I figured since I didn’t I could help that kid catch a break.

The comic flew to Chicago and picked up the car which was a super clean ‘88 Mercury Cougar. It was a one owner title with 50,000 miles on it and was SWEET. I liked that car a lot but I was willing to give it up for the kid and I’d scored it for a relatively cheap price so I said he could pay me what I had into it and we’d call it even. I cut him a killer deal.

He did tell me he couldn’t pay me back for a while and I was cool with it but the kid did have a birthday coming up so I wanted it to be a gift and get there on time. If I was the kid that’s what I’d want so I tried to live by the golden rule like we’re supposed to and did it.

Weeks became months and I think it’s been a couple of years now and he did send me a $100 payment but that was IT. No ‘Hey, I’m trying to pay you…’ Nothing. He had money to move to California and supposedly he’s been in some movies but do you think I’d get a call or an email or an I.O.U.? Nope. Then I found out the kid totaled the car in a month.

The whole situation pisses me off to no end, but mainly that I was stupid enough to give two working cars to people I thought I could trust. I have nobody to blame but myself and I’m sad it came down to this on both accounts. I lost two people I thought were friends.

I guess I was wrong and that hurts too. I was just trying to help out and cut somebody a break. I know what it’s like to be broke and have nobody cut me one so I wanted to buck a trend and create some hope. Instead, all I created was a double heartache for myself. It’s surely not the results I expected in either case and I really doubt I’ll see another payment.

The total amount owed to me would amount to three months rent. That would really be a nice little shot in the arm right now and help me get through a slow summer. It will sure make me think twice, thrice and roll some dice before I ever do a deal like this again. If it were the opposite and I owed them I have to believe they’d be up my ass like a wet thong.

The hardest part of this for me is keeping my personal feelings out of it. I am infuriated and insulted and I feel disrespected by both of these guys. I don’t ever want to associate in any way with either of them ever again, on stage or off. They’re out of my life and I don’t miss either one of them personally but I could use that money right about now. It’s mine.

The same goes for that slimy fat bastard up in Milwaukee who still owes me $400 from the shows I did in 1994 that he laughed off and said he’d never pay me. Well, he hasn’t. It also infuriates me and if the tables were turned he’d have surely sued me a long time ago.

This is why people can be ‘difficult’ when they make it. It’s stupid little things like this over and over and over again. For years. Then when someone breaks through it they want a chance to stick it back in return. I understand it now but still, much of this was my fault.

Doing The Right Things

Monday June 22nd, 2009 - Chicago, IL

I took care of some good business today on several levels and I feel really pumped. First I got up and took a nice long walk outside. I live in a neighborhood that looks like the one Beaver Cleaver lived in and there are a lot of nice places to take a walk when I choose to.

I still enjoy the Gurnee Mills Mall because it’s air conditioned and heated depending on the time of year but I have to drive to get there and it takes time and gas. Today I woke up and got dressed and was walking outside a few minutes later. This was pure convenience.

I broke a full sweat, partially because it was hot and humid. Still, I got a little pump and focused on my breathing and rhythm and it was very productive. That got me going in the right direction and I wrote out the check for the parking ticket I got in Milwaukee a while back when I was a guest on The D-List on ESPN 540. I’d been putting that off too long.

Then I signed online and reconnected with my writing partner Rick on the bank robbery story as a movie script. It’s an amazing story but it’s been sitting there too long and we’ve now got to finish it or abandon it and I am voting for finishing it. We have a treatment for anyone who may want to look at it and the version of the current script is looking doable.

I totally believe at some point we’re going to get a pitch session in L.A. and someone is going to buy this script and make an excellent movie out of it. It’s one of my best shots at breaking through the ‘wall of white guys’ in Hollywood and I need to make it a priority.

At least the project is back in motion. Rick is a great partner but he’s busy too so we let it sit for months and nobody complains because we’re each so busy on other things. I took charge on this and started it up again and I believe it’s time to sell this story and get paid.

Another thing I restarted today was comedy classes at Zanies. I offered a free class since I was booked to headline the show tonight and we had a very nice turnout. Bill Gorgo was there and I love teaching with him. He’s very laid back and fun and contrasts my energy.

There was a very nice mix of people and we really had a rocking class. I think most will sign up for a beginner class and we can start that very soon. It’s encouraging to see there’s still some interest in Zanies and the classes because there is a glut everywhere else. Now I hear Second City is teaching standup classes. Why would they do that? That’s confusing.

To me it would be like if KFC started selling hamburgers or tacos. That’s not what KFC does. It seems the same to me with Second City. They’re known for improv comedy and a very popular class with many levels attached to it. They must see money if they’re doing a standup class so I may be on the right track after all. Still, I never did this for the money.

I teach because I enjoy it. I also love peforming and I got to headline the show tonight. I usually host the rising star showcase but Bert Haas was off tonight so I closed the show. It was a lot of fun and I had many friends show up to see me. It was a very productive day.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father Figuring

Sunday June 21st, 2009 - Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Another Father’s Day. No matter how many more I live to see it won’t erase the feeling of emptiness that goes with it. I won’t yammer on about it because I’ve done that enough. I talked to my cousin Brett today and he’s in the same boat. He and his old man have not spoken in several years and at this point he said he has no desire to. What’s done is done.

Unfortunately I can relate. I didn’t speak to my sperm donor for years either and then he died and that was it. No tears. No mourning. No emotions at all really. Not right away. He was such a cold hearted ogre I was just glad to know he wasn’t alive to be mean anymore.

The worst part is that I’m by far not the only one with an ugly father story. Many people have had to struggle with it and I’m sorry to hear of it. Wayne Dyer has an amazing story of how his father abandoned the whole family and Wayne never got to meet him at all. He only got to stand at his grave and that’s when he was able to forgive him for all the pain.

If you’ve never heard Wayne Dyer or have and don’t like him that is one amazing story I think every dented can should hear. I personally happen to really enjoy all of the stuff he puts out because I think he’s passionate about it and funny too. His vibe is extremely real.

He doesn’t mince words and says a lot of things that make a lot of sense to me. I always get something out of listening to his audio programs as I do from several people like Tony Robbins and Brian Tracy and Earl Nightingale and Les Brown and quite a few others too.

I’ve been pounding a lot of those recordings into my head lately because I really think it resonates in the subconscious mind. If I’m going to win the game of life I have to tune my inner brain waves to the right frequency for success. Rotten thinking brings rotten results.

We all can get into that mental rut and I for one am sick of staying there. Yes, my father was a bully and a loser and a pathetic excuse for a person much less a father but who’s to say his function wasn’t to show my siblings and me how NOT to live? That concept has a twist I really hadn’t thought of but it sure is interesting to think about. Maybe it’s correct.

It’s very difficult not to have anger and disdain and a lot of other ill feelings toward him and I drift in and out of all of them but the concept that I may have chosen my parents is a mind bender I’m just now able to even conceptualize. Why would anyone choose that?

The Mothership Connection is great for stuff like this. Tonight we had a fantastic guest named Kay Taylor Parker who went into a lot of things like this and it was riveting radio for the entire two hours. We got a ton of calls and the time flew by. I highly recommend a trip to her website at www.starsourceonline.com. Tell her you heard about her from me.

Have we lived before? Are there old and young souls? What’s the truth? Lots of people have lots of answers and everyone thinks they’re right. I’m trying to think it all through so I can make up my own mind. What I do know is I’m not the only one who’s wondering.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Up For The Down Stroke

Saturday June 20th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

I don’t know why, but for some reason I was kind of bummed out today. The weather is spectacular and this is the prime time of year. Normally that alone cheers me up but today I was feeling a funk coming on and not the kind I like. In fact what made me feel worse is that George Clinton was playing in town tonight and I didn’t find out until it was too late.

Usually I’m up on when the band is playing anywhere close and if I’m off I’ll always go see them but it slipped past me this time. I was sorry it did because whenever I catch them it always energizes me in a positive way. They’re playing up in Milwaukee in July and I’ll hopefully catch that one and maybe even have my new CD ready to share with the band.

It was an email from Pedro Bell’s assistant that told me they were in town tonight. I had no idea and by the time I found out I couldn’t have gotten back into the city and fought all the Saturday traffic and construction again especially since I just was in the city earlier for Jerry’s Kidders on WGN. Had I known then I’d have stayed around and seen the show.

I don’t know why I felt so low today but I did. We had a fun session of the Kidders but I just kept thinking of how little to no impact we’re having on anything. Yes, maybe we get a few laughs once in a while or maybe people think we totally suck canal water but I can’t feel any kind of positive feedback other than we as a group have fun. But it’s not enough.

Then I got to thinking of how the TBS Just For Laughs Comedy Festival is in Chicago at Zanies and none of us have any part of it. They’re taping comics at Zanies to go on TV on WTBS and it really hurts that I’m not part of it. I didn’t bring it up with the other guys because they seemed to be in a good mood and I didn’t want to bring anyone else down.

This whole business is a big game and I’ve been a piss poor player for far too long. I’m really trying to get better but it seems like it might be too late. Lewis Black said he felt as if he was never going to make it big and resigned himself to the fact he’d manage a little theatre somewhere and then he got his shot on Comedy Central and things turned around.

I’m beginning to think I’ve past the point of having my shot. I don’t show up on any of the important people’s radar after a lifetime of trying. A lot of those people in the festival have been doing it a lot less time than me and quite frankly aren’t as strong a comic as me but they’re taping for TV and I’m sitting around bitching I’m not working on a Saturday.

The Kidders are fun but I don’t think it’s going anywhere. Not now anyway. We all take pride in what we’ve done and give it our best every week but I really don’t think anybody in charge cares one bit. The Mothership Connection is fun too but that’s also not putting a dime in my pocket. Should I chuck it all and try something else? I want some stability.

But I also want the creative buzz too. Can I have both? Is that possible? I think so but it sure would make it easier if I had a steady income right about now. I’ve always been able to squeeze out a living but right now it’s the tightest squeeze I’ve had in quite a stretch.

I couldn’t stand the thought of hanging out at home tonight with nothing to do. Usually I can get lost in a book or a project but tonight I wanted to be anywhere but here. There’s a glut of pools in the neighborhood and everyone seemed to be having a party tonight and I just wasn’t in that kind of mood. I don’t really know the neighbors and it felt awkward.

I tried calling every woman I like who is breathing and/or within a 900 mile radius and on short notice I couldn’t rustle up a date to save my pasty white buttocks. I was thinking of buying a gun and some bullets and taking target practice in my left ear but that isn’t the answer either. Well, it’s AN answer but not THE answer. I kept thinking of what to do.

Jerry and Tim Slagle were talking about how fantastic they thought the new movie ‘Up’ was. I am so out of the loop with current pop culture that I’d heard of it but that was about all. I knew it was about some cranky old guy who wouldn’t move out of his old house and eventually floated away with some balloons. Big deal. Not something I thought I’d enjoy.

Those kind of movies aren’t directed at me and I honestly don’t care if they ever found Nemo or not. I still haven’t seen that one yet but I hear it’s pretty good. I’ve got a backlog of other movies to see first before I ever get to that one and I won’t be crushed if I don’t.

There’s a movie theatre very close to where I live and I drove over and bought a ticket for Up just to escape my pissy mood. Sitting home would have let it grow roots. I wanted something to make me forget it and boy did I get it. What a movie. I totally got lost in it.

It caught me at the right time on the right day but I’d say this was one of my favorites of all time. It grabbed me right away and touched me all over and not many movies have had that affect. The Princess Bride and The Shawshank Redemption come to mind along with A Christmas Story and The Grinch movies. Maybe Forrest Gump. That‘s pretty much it.

This one had feelings and emotion and really communicated it well. The animation was spectacular and it all just fit together perfectly. The old man character reminded me of my own grandpa and I didn’t know until afterward that it was Ed Asner who was the voice.

Another twist that caught my attention was the little boy’s name was Russell. That was my father’s name and maybe because it’s Father’s Day weekend that had something to do with why I was feeling a little off today. Every other commercial I’ve heard lately pounds it into my head even more. “Menard’s is having a FATHER’S DAY sale!!!” Ok. Enough.

I was in a foul and ugly and hurting mood today but I was able to escape for a while and that‘s what good entertainment does. It had that rare magic a classic has and I totally think this movie will attain classic status. I’ll see it again and hopefully bring some kids along.

I’d sure love to be able to leave that kind of a legacy to the world. Millions will enjoy it who aren’t even born yet just like Laurel and Hardy made me laugh and still do long after they’re dead. THAT is a true gift that keeps on giving and I strive to leave something that future generations can enjoy. So far I’m still struggling to pay bills. I’ve got a ways to go.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dr. Destruction's Crimson Theatre

Friday June 19th, 2009 - Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

And then it rained. And rained. And rained some more. What a nasty weather day. I had a 9:30am taping time to be a guest on ‘Dr. Destruction’s Crimson Theatre’ up in Kenosha but it was pouring so hard I had a hard time finding the studio. Then I did and there was a technical problem so we ended up not being able to tape what we had originally intended.

Dr. Destruction is one of my co-hosts on the Mothership Connection radio show. He’s a Kenosha icon and truly an interesting character. He’s been doing the Crimson Theatre TV show for eight years now and it’s a horror movie show with bits in between. Everybody’s seen a show like that because most towns have them but the Doc knows what he’s doing.

He dresses like a monster movie show host should complete with makeup and a top hat and shoulder length black hair and a funky wardrobe complete with platform boots and an array of tattoos that would have made my biker father jealous. He knows how to play it.

Off stage he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met - a true gentle soul. He has cats and loves them to death and is kind to children and I’m really glad I crossed paths with him as he’s the perfect fit for the radio show. He totally understands entertainment and as long as I have anything going on in Kenosha Dr. D will have a part of it. We work well together.

Having a cable access TV show is no easy task. I had one for a couple of years and it’s a constant variety of unexpected hassles. Most of them are technical but nobody’s paid so it kind of goes with the territory. I had a producer named Ron Lee who did all the hard work behind the scenes and I had to worry about the content. We pulled it off for two full years.

I don’t know how Dr. Destruction did it for eight and I give him my full respect. He’s a talented guy and very persistent and not only does he do the show he’s also in a punk rock band called The Dead Leathers and is a wonderfully talented painter too. He’s the founder of The Dorian Gray Art Show and this was his 25th year. The guy has a lot of credentials.

We did two interviews today that he can plug in at a later date. He’s got two hours each week to fill and sometimes the movies don’t go that long and he needs filler. I was hoping to see the movie today because it was Vincent Price’s “Dr. Phibes” which is one of my all time favorites but the technical problem wiped that out so all we did were the interviews.

After the taping we went to Infusino’s Pizza to get some lunch. The Doc works there on occasion to make an extra buck or two and I can’t fault anyone for that. He suggested that we try their individual bar pizza and it was outstanding, probably one of the best pizzas of my entire life and I’ve had some good pie in my time. That alone made the drive worth it.

As we sat and ate and talked about our lives as struggling entertainers an older group of six people came in for lunch. One of the ladies did a double take when she saw the Doc in his makeup and top hat and calmly said “Oh, I didn’t know it was Halloween already.” If he wasn’t such a gentle soul he could have been mean but instead he just sat and smiled.

Contact Buzz

Thursday June 18th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

Life really does boil down to who you know. People say that like it’s a bad thing but it’s really not. I think there’s a little more to it though. It’s also how you know them and what you can do for each other over time. That’s how to build a solid win/win relationship.

I’ve always been all about that. Zanies is a perfect example. I’ve been working for them for probably twenty years now and it’s developed into almost a family situation. It’s a lot deeper than just business because many of the people there are personal friends and I keep in contact even after they’ve moved on. I’m one of Zanies’ main acts and it’s been great.

Jerry Agar is another example. We met as part of me working for Zanies but we’ve also developed a friendship and have helped each other over and over again for almost as long as I‘ve worked with Zanies. I have all kinds of people like that I’ve met all over the place.

Keith Stubbs in Salt Lake City is another example. He’s a comedian who opened a club when I had a radio job out there in 2000. He was just getting started and booked me for a week and crowds were pretty light. I was doing ok with the radio gig and told him I didn’t need to get paid that week but there might be a time in the future when I’d need the work.

He was extremely thankful for the break and we ended up working together quite a bit. I eventually lost my job and Keith was right there to book me whenever I wanted the work. He still does to this day. We’ve developed a relationship and I will always appreciate it.

John Perry is yet another example. He and I worked together in Milwaukee at 93QFM in 1991. He was the overnight guy and I was on the morning show and I made sure he got to be on our show with a trivia question each morning. It meant a lot to him when nobody else gave him the time of day but to me it was no big deal. I wanted to be nice to the guy.

Well, years later he became the program director at 95 WIIL in Kenosha and eventually the operations manager of three stations in the same building. I’ve ended up working in a varied number of capacities at all three stations over the years including my current show ‘The Mothership Connection’ on Sunday nights. It all started from a trivia question bit.

I’ve got all kinds of these stories and I hope to have a lot more. Today I started another in motion by having lunch with Jayne Nordstrom from the Lake County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. I joined recently and she’s been nothing short of fantastic in hooking up people for me to contact and ideas of what I can do to maximize my membership money.

She’s really a people person and even at lunch with our guard down she was thinking of ways to help not only me but the people she suggested I meet. I can already tell she’ll be a big asset and I’ll do my best to help her in return. It was well worth the cost of a salad bar.

I have a lot of work ahead of me with what I’m doing but people like Jayne and the rest of my network will help me get to where I want to go. This was a lunch that will pay off.

Time For A Tweak

Wednesday June 17th, 2009 - Bowling Green, OH/Lake Villa, IL

Almost everyone I know right now and several million more that I don’t are in a state of drastic life change. I’m not talking about a trendy new hair style or buying a new brand of underwear or cereal or shampoo. I’m referring to a complete and total revamp of lifestyle, career and way of thinking from the ground up. This is happening nationwide but quick.

What was true and could be counted on even a year or two ago is no longer the case. It’s unbelievably scary in one way but extremely exciting in another. These so called horrible times could and will be a major launching pad for quite a few new and exciting fortunes.

I really want mine to be one of them. That would be a worthy goal just so I could give it all away (or at least a big chunk of it) and enjoy it with a lot of other people too. My own needs are secondary at this point. My standards are low because I’ve learned to live like a cockroach and I actually don’t mind it all that much. I just want money to not be an issue.

Unfortunately it is for the moment. I have backed myself into a bit of a corner and have to be careful and crafty to work my way out of it. I don’t intend to cheat or steal but I will have to get some streams of income coming in relatively soon if I want to continue living indoors. And I’d also like to improve the quality and location of the doors I’m living near.

I had a fantastic drive home today from Bowling Green. I took the Toyota I was storing at Jerry Agar’s house and the CD player got jammed somehow. Jerry’s son Tanner said he tried to put a CD in it and it froze up. Initially I was a little irritated but there was nothing I could do about it and the radio was already limited because the antenna was broken off.

I drove over 600 miles to and from Bowling Green mostly in silence. I did get a few FM stations but not for long and after a while I actually enjoyed the quiet. It allowed me to get in a good mental groove and think about life there and back and I put my ideas down on a legal pad so I can begin my own redefinition and change of identity. It’s time for a tweak.

I also had a lot of phone calls to keep me busy. Jim McHugh encouraged me to keep on expanding the Uranus Factory Outlet concept. I also talked to Greg Phelps in Indianapolis at length about packaging and order fulfillment of several products. He does it for a living now but he was a road comic for years. He’s a good friend and wants to help this develop.

There are a lot of people who can help me grow and a huge part of what will put this all together is my ability to be the head of many different teams doing many different project ideas. It’s a system and a format much like an assembly line. Henry Ford used that and so did Berry Gordy. They each tweaked it to their needs and I really think I can do the same.

I don’t have to exploit people either. All I want to do is find strengths and place people I know in a position that can benefit both parties and keep doing that until some money is a by product. I don’t have to be greedy. They can make money too and in fact I hope they’re getting paid because that means I will be too. I can DO this. If I don’t it’s my own fault.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Latest Mistake

Tuesday June 16th, 2009 - Bowling Green, OH

My life has been one continuous steady stream of questionable to poor personal choices in combination with plain old rotten luck. That little winning combo platter has gotten me to exactly where I am today. Still, I did manage to squeeze in at least a couple of halfway smart things along the way and that’s what’s keeping me among the living as I write this.

I sure can be pig headed and stubborn when I want to be and today was yet another fine example of that. I know I should be turning down low paying one night hell runs but I did another one anyway. I ended up losing money in the deal and I’m the only one to blame.

The gig I did was in Bowling Green, OH which is about 25 miles south of Toledo. It’s a place called “Grumpy Dave’s Pub” but there’s minimal grumpiness as Dave is actually an easygoing laid back guy. I’ve done the gig several times in the past and it’s been decent as far as one nighters on a Tuesday go. It’s not a career maker but I knew that going in. Fine.

For all my life my policy has always been if I have a choice to work or not work I’ll do the gig even if it’s less than stellar conditions and/or pay. I like to practice my craft and if I can get in front of an audience or stay home I’ve almost always chosen to take the work.

Those times are now over. There are such things as too long of a drive or too low of pay and tonight turned out to be both. I hadn’t been here in a while and it was WAY longer of a drive than I’d remembered. Plus, I’d decided to take US Highway 6 to save tolls which would have taken an even bigger bite into my final numbers but it slowed me down a lot.

I showed up right at show time and there were 14 people in the joint. The opener was a guy who called himself (no joke) “Uncle Dick”. He’s probably close to my age or even a little older and has only been doing comedy for nine months. He was happy to get the gig and said he’d heard very good things about me and wanted to work with me. That’s nice.

How could I not be flattered by that? I know he meant it too because he sat and watched my whole show beginning to end and was laughing out loud the whole time. That’s not an everyday occurrence. Most openers try to score free drinks or chicks or both but not him.

Pat Duax was the feature act and I’ve known Pat for many years. He’s from Chicago but moved to Florida twenty years ago and we’ve worked together many times in many towns over those years and when we tried to remember them all we both started drawing blanks.

I like Pat personally and he’s a road veteran like me who never ‘made it’. We both have survived and made a living and in many ways that IS ‘making it’ but not in the eyes of the public I suppose. Neither of us has had a sitcom or big HBO special or anything like that.

I have to believe the HBO special would be much easier than trying to entertain a group of 14 people at Grumpy Dave’s Pub in Bowling Green, OH on a muggy drizzly Tuesday night in June but we did it anyway. We’re used to it. That’s what we’ve done for years.

After the show I received the door proceeds and was instructed to distribute the money. I never like doing that but that’s what the deal was tonight. The booker is a comic named Steve Sabo who is doing a month of USO shows in Iraq and obviously couldn’t pay us so the honor fell down to me. I opened the envelope and noticed right away it was a bit light.

The instructions said to count up the cash and if there was a shortage Steve would pay it out of his pocket when he gets back from Iraq. I wasn’t expecting that at all but I’ve been on the road long enough I’ve seen just about everything by now. The right thing to do was pay Pat in full, which I did. He’s from Florida and is out for six weeks and needs it more.

I need mine too but I took the hit this time. Steve is a very honorable guy and he’ll take care of it but I don’t want to have him pay it out of his pocket. My gas will probably come to about fifty bucks and with a couple of meals maybe $65-70. I’d rather have him pay me that and have him owe me a favor than bleed cash out of a guy’s pocket. I know how it is.

I’ve lost money on shows too and the honorable thing is to pay the comics off but that’s not always easy to do. Normally Grumpy Dave’s has enough people to cover it and make a few bucks for Steve but tonight wasn’t one of those nights. I don’t have a problem with any of that. My problem is with myself for even taking the gig. THAT was my mistake.

I have to get it in my thick marble skull that I’m past doing gigs like this. No offense to Grumpy Dave’s or Steve Sabo or Bowling Green or anything like that. I’ve graduated the low minor leagues and it’s stupid for me to keep going back there even if I could use the few bucks on a Tuesday. It’s more expensive than that. It took up a lot of my work time.

I still tried to make the best of it all the way out by writing out my plan of attack for my comedy class fall sessions and also some Uranus Factory Outlet ideas and that was useful but I totally could have done that at home five feet from my bed. I didn’t need to drive out to Ohio 312 miles one way to stand on stage for an hour and five minutes for 14 people.

Those people were actually very nice though and they laughed and I shaped some of my new bits and used the time as wisely as possible but in reality I could have easily stayed in the Chicago area and gone to any Zanies and got on stage for a few minutes and tried a bit there too. I wouldn’t have gotten an hour but I probably would have had more of a crowd.

Then to make it worse it started pouring after the show so any thought of driving home was zapped. Good thing they have a hotel for us so I used it. It was a very nice and newly remodeled Knight’s Inn and I got the last room which turned out to be the Jacuzzi suite.

I was going to sit in it but I couldn’t help thinking of the poor maid who’d have to scrub it out in the morning so I decided not to. I know it’s ’her job’ but she’s got enough trouble in her own life I’m sure so hopefully me not sitting in it made her work day a little easier.

I learned my lesson today. These types of gigs are fine but not for me at this time in life. I’ve paid my dues and if I want to open up bigger doors I have to stop playing with these.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sixteen Years Of Silence

Monday June 15th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

When I was a kid June 15th meant two things: it was the Major League Baseball trading deadline and it was my sister Tammy’s birthday. Every year I’d wait to see what baseball players got traded and also either go see or at least call Tammy. Now it‘s totally different.

Baseball’s trading deadline is now July 31st and Tammy and I haven’t spoken in sixteen years now so today really doesn‘t have much meaning anymore. SIXTEEN YEARS. That still blows my mind how it could get to be that long but it has. And it’s not even a record.

I had a wacky aunt nobody liked and she didn’t speak to her sister in over twenty years. She died a few years ago and they never did patch it up. My cousin Brett said he called to tell his aunt that her sister was dead and she was very nice to him and said what a waste it was to let all those years just slip away. I totally agree. I’m in a very similar scenario here.

Tammy is the oldest of us and she turns 50 today. That also blows my mind. It seems as though we were all kids just a few years ago but that’s long gone too. Tammy and I never were very close and I always felt she didn’t like me for some reason. I guess I was right.

Our family situation (or lack thereof) was so warped and twisted that I couldn’t put any blame on her or anyone else for whatever was said or done during that whole big horrible mess but I would think we’d be able to look back and put an adult perspective on it now.

Tammy probably has some painful memories my brother Larry and I don’t because she was the oldest and she was also the only girl. Maybe I didn’t realize that as a kid but now I do and I would have been very sympathetic to that fact but I won’t get that chance now.

When my grandmother threw me out when I was 17 Tammy did take me in then and let me live with her family. She was very young herself and had a husband and two kids and I rented a room and paid them rent. That was as close as we ever were but looking back it was an unfair situation. She shouldn’t have had to have that burden at such a young age.

We got along ok I guess but I knew it wasn’t a long term thing and I moved out shortly thereafter to begin my own tumultuous series of events. This was long before I ever tried comedy and I was young and stupid and really didn’t have much of a clue about anything.

It really hurts to go over all this in my mind just because everyone was so clueless then. We were all finding our try or at least trying to and we’d come from a situation that didn’t teach us anything practical as to how to make a good life for ourselves. My grandpa was a positive influence until age 17 and then he checked out just when I needed him the most.

I know there are other siblings that haven’t spoken and just because someone is a family member doesn’t mean you’ll get along but I really do think this is ridiculous. Many times I’ve tried to patch it up with Tammy and I really meant it when I said I was sorry but it’s a lost cause at this point. I give up. She’s 50 and in my eyes our relationship is amputated.

I think the whole situation rots major ass but what else can I do now? I don’t think I am free of blame and never did but our big blowup happened in 1993. I won’t get into it but I was at the very lowest point of my life and had just gone through a major car accident and had nobody to turn to. I asked Tammy for some help and she said she’d ‘pray about it’.

I do admit that really set me off and I wrote her a stinging letter and told her in a few of my choicest words how I felt and really let her have it. But it was 1993. I couldn’t tell you for a million bucks exactly what I wrote back then. I was blowing off steam. No, it’s not a valid excuse and I know that but apparently Tammy took it a lot more to heart than I did.

Honestly I thought it would blow over in a few months but that has festered into sixteen long ugly silent years. When my grandmother had to be put into a nursing home everyone was invited to go help clean out her house and the only reason I went was to attempt to be face to face with Tammy so we could at least talk about why she’s been silent this long.

She wouldn’t even look at me. It was very uncomfortable and after a while I just left. It was also the last time I saw my father and that was cold hearted too. I felt all kinds of icy vibes that day and thinking of it now is making me sad so I’ll stop before I start bawling.

This all seems to stupid and meaningless to me. Is all this part of the big picture lesson plan I’m here to learn or is that all a myth and this is just random dumb luck? I can’t see a happy ending here even though I’ve tried and tried to take charge and admit my faults and make it right. I can’t do that if Tammy won’t talk to me and after sixteen years she won’t.

I seem to have that effect on a certain percentage of people even if it’s a very tiny one. It bothers me a lot that I can’t fix it or at least sincerely apologize but again it’s not up to me at this point. If I could change the situation with all my siblings or with Bob and Tom or a couple of other people I would do it in a second. But I can’t. And it continues to bug me.

The human condition can have some harsh realities and I’m not even close to figuring it all out yet. I’m getting a little smarter but it feels like I’m putting high octane gas in a Geo Metro. It might make a tiny difference but not enough to make me to win the Indy 500.

So I plod along through another June 15th. There were no baseball trades I’ve heard tell of and I wasn’t invited to Tammy’s 50th birthday party. Old age will be on all of us sooner than we think, and that’s only IF we’re ‘lucky’ enough to live that long. Personally I don’t think I’m going to make it. I’m either going to learn my lessons or die in utter frustration.

I’m totally ok with it if I don’t live to an old age. I think the ‘golden years’ are way over rated. I’m surprised I lived this long but it’s still a struggle even to this day. I wrote about my situation with Tammy so hopefully someone reads this and goes and makes up with a sibling or anyone else they haven’t spoken to in years. That would be the happiest ending.

This is how life is in the dented can. ‘Normal’ people have normal problems - like what to get their sister for her 50th birthday. I wish I did. But I don’t. Happy birthday, Tammy.

Sunny Sunday Driving

Sunday June 14th, 2009 - Southgate, MI/Lake Villa, IL

I was thinking about driving back after the show last night but my iffy radiator situation told me not to. I had a nice hotel room and I didn’t see the benefit of risking a night in my car on the side of the road vs. hoping I’d get back to Chicago in time to race the drunks at bar time. Neither of those options thrilled me so I sprawled out on the bed and drifted off.

I’m very glad I did too. Today was as perfect a sunny late spring day as there could ever be and I really enjoyed the whole trip. I had my eye glued to the temperature gauge for the first half hour but it didn’t budge so the goop they put in yesterday must have worked out.
I fully expected to see a gusher of green goo come shooting out of my grill but it didn’t.

I still don’t trust it though and I’ll have it looked at before I take it on any more trips out of town. It was leaking pretty good at the oil change place and in my advancing age I was envious of the steady and consistent stream. I‘d have a hard time matching it these days.

The hotel was right next to I-75 which I took into the heart of downtown Detroit before turning west on I-94 for Chicago. Construction was blocking everything everywhere and I ended up having to drive right through some areas that looked like what I’d picture Beirut or Baghdad to look like after a night of carpet bombing. These were some serious ghettos.

For some reason hellishly bad neighborhoods have always fascinated me. I can’t help it. I always wonder how they got that bad in the first place without someone at least trying to do something about it. It seems like a lot of effort went into allowing things to deteriorate that badly in one place. I’ve seen some bad areas before but today was right at the tip top.

Or is that the bitter bottom? Block after block I saw run down houses and old buildings that were probably thriving in the heyday of the auto industry but are now just homes for pigeons or good places to unload dead bodies. Gang graffiti is everywhere and it seemed like I was on the set of a futuristic science fiction movie about how civilization crumbles.

I know I said how much I like Detroit and I still do. Even after my tour of the ugly side today I still find the vibe here to be to my liking as a whole. One thing I did see in all the mess was blacks and whites living together in squalor. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in my travels. I’ve seen both in squalor, but never on the same block. I saw that a lot today.

I feel very sad to look at what was such a wonderful example of the American lifestyle that’s now rotting at the core. I wish I could have been living here when it was all running smoothly back in the day. Each one of the big three was cranking out muscle cars and big luxury boats with fins and chrome and anybody who wanted to work could score a job.

Entertainment was huge too. Motown was the music of a generation and Detroit was the home base. Berry Gordy took the example of the assembly line and put it to work in what he was doing. Lots of other music came out of here too like Alice Cooper and Bob Seger and Ted Nugent and for a long time my personal favorites Parliament/Funkadelic as well.

I know it wasn’t nirvana and nothing is perfect but that was probably about as close as it ever got. How much money filtered through Detroit back then? It has to stagger the mind. I thought about that as I drove past the rotting hulks of big buildings that probably housed what was state of the art technological equipment then but now are in a state of disrepair.

Gary, IN is like that too. I’ve driven through there many times and just gawked at all of the decay and wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about it. If I had big money I’d buy up chunks of Gary and Detroit and places like them cheaply and revitalize them.

But is that a good idea? Apparently not because nobody’s doing it. Manufacturing isn’t going to make a comeback in American life any time soon unfortunately. That ship sailed but did it have to? Was it due to progress or plain old fashioned greed? Probably both. It’s still fascinating to drive through the city for a while and soak it all in. I was mesmerized.

I also felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude bubble up inside me because I did get an opportunity to chase my own dreams and didn’t have to live like a rat in a sewer like a lot of these people are. No matter who is at fault my life has never been as dead ended as that so I felt very good about my life in a big hurry. I’ve had many good things come my way.

Sometimes it’s easy to zero in on what hasn’t gone right but that time wasn’t today. I’ve made it way farther than anyone else thought I would but I feel like I’m just starting out in many ways. I have a lot of things I still want to accomplish so I need to hack it out and get it on paper in front of as many people as possible so I’ll have to hit my goals to save face.

That can be great motivation and it was suggested by Bill Mihalic yesterday at lunch. It made sense then and it still does today. What was also perfect was listening to some Tony Robbins cassettes I bought at a thrift store for under a buck each. Tony has a series called “Power Talk” where he interviews heavy hitters each month and they’re very well done.

I enjoy pretty much everything Tony Robbins puts out. His recordings are listenable and his vibe is positive and I feel his energy coming right through my speakers anyplace I hear him. On a sunny day in my car I wasn’t sure was going to make it home he sounded extra good. My mind was in it and I soaked in as much of it as I could. It was a mental tune up.

Tony Robbins is a guy I’d love to meet someday and even work with him in coming up with a humor course as part of his seminar schedule. I had all kinds of ideas as I drove in the sunshine and I wrote them down on a legal pad. I have no shortage of things to get to.

Every day is turning into a time management puzzle. Today was productive because my drive was used to pack my coconut with positive information and I also used it to think of what I’m going to do in the immediate future and how I’m going to do it. Another puzzle.

Breaking it down into smaller chunks is the only way I’ll ever do anything. It’s way too overwhelming for me to look at the entire picture and try to get there all at once. This is a lot more manageable. I have my mini goals set for the next two weeks. That’s a big step.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Delight In Detroit

Saturday June 13th, 2009 - Southgate, MI

Detroit has always been one of my favorite towns. Really. People laugh when I say that but I really mean it. There’s a vibe about Detroit that I really like. It’s obviously about as blue collar as it gets but those people dig me and vice versa. There’s a realness to them.

The mix of car mania and rock and roll and having Canada right across a bridge makes a unique vibe and whenever I come here I sync up with it instantly. I always thought that I could have lived here and believe it or not I still do. I’m not looking for a radio job but if I got one in Detroit I’d take it. There’s just something about here and me that matches well.

The rust belt in general is perfect for what I do. Mr. Lucky is an ideal persona for those who struggle because it releases tension. Plus it’s comforting to know someone else has a tough road too. Places like Pittsburgh and Toledo and Buffalo need a chuckle these days.

My friend Bill Mihalic lives in the suburbs and he’s one of my favorite people. He came to a one day seminar I taught in Ann Arbor years ago and we’ve been friends ever since. I really respect his work ethic. He works as hard as anyone I’ve ever met writing jokes and I wish I could help him more. Check out his daily jokes at www.highimpacthumor.com.

Bill is a car guy and has worked in the business his whole life but he loves writing jokes and would love to be a sitcom writer. He’s always taking seminars or trying to meet some person in charge who can get him in the door somewhere. I’ve always tried to support his efforts and I really respect his persistence. Plus I think he’s a funny guy too. But it’s hard.

This whole business is difficult. The worst part of it is it’s run by people of all levels of insanity and incompetence but there are still a few in the mix that are brilliantly sane and extremely competent. Those are the ones I’m trying to find as is Bill as are everyone else. It’s like a giant game of keno or musical chairs or bingo or some other game of chance.

Bill took me out for lunch at a great place called Miller’s Bar in Dearborn. Here’s what they have on their menu: hamburgers and cheeseburgers and French fries and onion rings. I’ve been all over North America in the better part of three decades and I have to say I’ve never had a better cheeseburger in my life. It was delightfully splendiferous. And rare too.

Not often do people cook my steaks or burgers how I want them but Miller’s did it with no fanfare. I told the waitress how I wanted it and she brought it right back exactly right. I was really impressed by not only the place itself but the high degree of gorgeous women I saw sitting around eating and drinking and distracting me from my own fantastic meal.

The place has a website at www.millersbar.com it’s about as simple as their menu but if you’re ever in the Detroit area do yourself a favor and check it out yourself. You won’t be sorry. It’s delicious red meat with friendly blue collar people and in my world there isn’t a whole lot better. Bill was also very helpful in getting me on the right track mentally as his specialty is big picture planning and organization on a corporate level. I sure can use that.

Wayne Dyer has always been one of my favorite self help author/speakers and he’s said on many occasions ‘When the student is ready the teacher will appear.’ I’m sure someone else has said it too but that’s where I remember hearing it and I think Bill can really help a left handed scatterbrain like me to organize myself and get to where I’m supposed to be.

After lunch I was supposed to be in Southgate, MI so that’s where I headed to check in at my hotel. It was only a few minutes away from Miller’s and I had some time before the show so I decided to get my oil changed because I was past due. I found a place right near the hotel that had an Elvis theme of all things. It was the goofiest thing I’ve seen in ages.

The guy who changed my oil looked like an escaped convict. He had a shaved head and piercing eyes and if I saw him on the street I’d protect my wallet. He seemed nice enough so I was nice to him and went inside to check out all of the Elvis memorabilia on the wall.

A few minutes later the guy comes in and tells me my radiator needs a flush. I thought I had it done already but he said I needed it so I tried to cut the guy some slack and said yes so I could do my part to spend a few bucks in Detroit in tough times. After I paid my bill I went back to the hotel and as I was unpacking the car I noticed a green puddle under it.

I took it back and now the guy was behaving how he looked. He told me I needed to get some of the gunk that plugs radiators from an auto parts store and I told him it was totally fine until he worked on it and after going back and forth for a while he agreed to send one of his flunkies out to get some of that fix it stuff and they ended up installing it for free.

The trouble was it took almost two extra hours for this to play out and I was planning to get a nap in before the show but I didn’t. Plus now I’m 300 miles from home with a leaky radiator that I wasn’t sure would make it around the block. This is part of the road life I’m really sick of at this point. How many more times do I have to endure this kind of torture?

I got to the show at the Portofino early so the car wouldn’t be an issue. It was more than a couple of miles from the hotel and way too far to walk so I wanted to play it safe. That’s the smart way to do it so at least I could do the show and get paid to help pay for the car.

The show was in a banquet room of a nice restaurant but it was set up very well in every way. Sal Demilio is a Detroit comic who also books the shows and he made sure all bases were covered. There was a nice stage and good lighting and an excellent sound system as well. The people were seated as they came in and it was a full house. Sal knows the game.

He’s focusing on doing group fundraisers and that’s very smart. We must have had 200 or so people and they were an electric audience. Wow, what a fantastic group. Sal did the feature spot and is very funny and there was an opener named Phil do did a fine job also.

These are the kind of gigs I’d love to do all the time because they really got it and there were no weak links anywhere. Sal ran it correctly and I love that because it’s a treat to do a show for people who enjoy it. Now I hope my car makes it back to Chicago tomorrow.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Pat On His Back

Friday June 12th, 2009 - Milwaukee, WI

Unexpected but necessary change of plans today. I was starting in on my huge pile of all I have to do when I received a call from my old friend Pat Martin. Pat is my mentor in the radio business and sometimes I don’t know whether to thank him or beat him like a drum.

Radio can be very bittersweet and it isn’t for the squeamish or thin skinned. When radio is going well it can be a euphoric high but when it isn’t there aren’t too many things more soul crushing. Getting fired in a strange town by a clueless toad can be overwhelming and most people who’ve worked in radio have experienced that at least once. Usually more.

Pat is the one who helped me get started and like my comedy mentor C. Cardell Willis I totally appreciate his support and guidance in the beginning. Both of them taught me what life in the business was like and how to handle it and were extremely passionate about the craft even though neither one of them achieved the status and recognition they deserved.

Unfortunately nice guys seldom get recognized or thanked so I always try to do it as I’m in that class myself. I help people all the time and that tends to be forgotten by most of the ones who get helped but the ones who do appreciate it really stand out. They’re the elite.

I know how good it feels when one of my comedy students sends me even a short email of thanks so that’s why I always try to be grateful for those who helped me. Cardell was a kind and giving soul but died in squalor in a low rent nursing home. He deserved better.

Pat Martin deserves more too in my opinion. He’s been a mentor to a lot of people over the years but few recognize it. He owns a small radio station up in Manistee, MI and it’s a life long dream of his to be a station owner. People are always telling him to shut it down and I know that hurts him very much. He’s a small fish in a smaller pond but he loves it.

Pat’s birthday is May 14th and I always try to take him out for a thank you lunch. We’ve both been busy and this is as close as we could make it but I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to give him some proper respect so when he called I changed my day‘s plans.

Most people don’t realize Pat Martin was the one who suggested I use ‘Mr. Lucky’ as a stage persona. He’d been trying to think of a stage gimmick for years and one year during his birthday lunch he came up with that idea and it stuck. I’ll always be grateful for that.

Even more than that I’m thankful for his kindness and friendship and support over a lot of very hard years. He knew me through the bank robbery fiasco and all the tortured times that went with it and he was there for me when I got fired all over the country and now he uses me as an example of someone he admires for staying with it through the worst times.

I know it meant a lot to him for me to drive up and buy him lunch and it meant a lot to me to be able to do it. Pat is a great mentor and I hope I can be the same to others. People like he and Cardell make life worth living and I for one never want to forget their gifts.

Dusting Off Uranus

Thursday June 11th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

In my distant half baked brief study of numerology I can remember the 11th and the 22nd of each month are supposed to be the power days. Whether it’s true or not I felt a creative surge today so no matter where it came from or what caused it I’ll take it and be grateful.

Marc Schultz called and wanted to have a lunch so I could meet another guy he likes to book named Kevin Adair. Kevin is originally from Chicago but moved to the Dominican Republic of all places to start a ‘Geotourism Ecovillage’. That sounds impressive even if I have no idea what it is and I really don’t but he does and Marc wanted us both to meet.

The reason he did was because he said we are both entrepreneurial and work way harder than most of his other acts and he thought it would be good if we crossed paths. We had a very enjoyable lunch and Kevin’s story is very interesting. He’d worked in the Dominican Republic at a resort and loved it and ended up moving down there to start this business.

Marc had told him a little about my Uranus Factory Outlet idea and he really loved that as well. I gave him an ‘I (Heart) Uranus’ bumper sticker and he laughed out loud. It made me cringe because I really haven’t been working on that idea like I should and it bugs me.

After lunch I went into Chicago to get my mail and I got a call from Jerry Agar who had stayed late at WGN to finish up some work. I told him I was in the city and picked him up to have someone to talk to on the ride home. Traffic was brutal and we were marooned.

Since it was so late getting home Jerry invited me to stay for dinner. I love hanging with his whole family and his oldest son Tanner brought it up out of the blue that he still gets a ton of kids in his school asking when they can buy King of Uranus merchandise. He made a class project video a while back and he was the King of Uranus. He had a blast with it.

He put on a cape and a crown and got some of his friends to be in it with him and at the very end there was a cut to all of them saying in unison “Thumbs up Uranus!” It was very funny and I was thrilled to see that not only did he run with it but that the kids liked it too.

We ended up sitting around after dinner and brainstorming ideas for a long time. We all came up with Uranus jokes and it made us laugh until we had tears in our eyes. It’s just an endless string of fart, butt, and poop jokes and puns and double entendres and it even had Jerry’s daughter Kaelin howling and she’s 10. I knew then that I need to refocus on this.

Jerry’s sons Tanner and Cooper are 16 and 13 and Kaelin is 10. Jerry’s wife Ann is very intelligent and although I like her very much as a person our senses of humor have tended to go in different directions over the years. Not this time. Everybody loves this concept.

I’ve never ever had anything I’ve done that has gotten that kind of reaction from such a broad audience. Just about everyone I’ve told so far has had a light go on when I tell them about it but I keep finding ways to not do it. That stops TODAY. The messages are clear.

I don’t know why I’ve been letting this lapse for so long. I make all kinds of excuses as to why I don’t have time and yes I do get busy but this is my new dream and passion or so I thought it was. It’s something I can build from scratch and nobody else can do it like I’ll be able to, at least that’s what I truly believe in my deepest of being. This is my new baby.

I can use a lot of what I did in my entire life to this point and I intend to do just that. I’m still interested in comedy and teaching classes and radio and I think all of those things can be a part of this new ideal. What I’m creating is a new persona and world for it to live in.

J.K. Rowling did that with the Harry Potter books. She created a franchise that made an impact worldwide. George Lucas did the same thing with Star Wars. He came up with his own characters and world to put them in and shaped it into something that still thrives.

George Clinton did it in music. He created his own thing to set himself apart and put his band in outer space. It eventually worked and is still working today. He went in a new and different direction and it was ballsy as hell as were George Lucas and J.K. Rowling too.

I’m at a point where I need to do something different. WAY different. Maybe I’ve been afraid of that fact or of success or failure but whatever it is I know that today is the day of reckoning and I know I’m on the right path. I may not be successful right away and I may have some people think I’m crazier than I already am but I can feel this is what’s right.

I’ve had this feeling before but then for some reason I’ll just let it fade away without an explanation. I don’t even know why I do it but if I keep spreading the word to people like Jerry’s family I’ll keep having them ask about it and if it hurts when they ask maybe I will get off my asteroids and DO something so I’ll have a good answer the next time they ask.

This is going to take hard work and a steady effort but I am so up for the challenge right now. My bookings as a comic aren’t the greatest but they are still there and I can exist as I work on putting this concept together. I have all kinds of half baked ideas that need to get fleshed out in detail and written out and put in a three ring binder I carry with me always.

I need to have a business plan written with goals and deadlines and budgets. I also need a list of products to begin with but also a master list of things for down the road too. I like the idea of selling funny trinkets and baubles and doo dads but that’s not my main goal in all this. I want to CREATE at least some of those things and also include performing too.

The concept of Uranus Factory Outlet is still too fuzzy but at least I’m forcing myself to think about it and dust off the cobwebs. It won’t get done if I don’t at least try something and now is that time. Bumper stickers and t-shirts are ok and I’ll be learning all about the finer points of those two things and more very shortly but I’m thinking a whole lot bigger.

I want to create an entertainment powerhouse that people look at years from now with a twinkle in their eye and a smirk on their face when they say “Remember that guy who did the King of Uranus gimmick? Who’d have thought THAT would have been so popular?”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Double D-List Duty

Wednesday June 10th, 2009 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

The Bat Signal went out again this morning so I ended up going back to Milwaukee for another fill in on The D-List on ESPN Radio 540. I never mind doing that and I’m totally flattered they call me. As happened to be I was off and available so I made my way north.

One of the few advantages about living where I do is that I’m exactly between Chicago and Milwaukee and when situations like this come up in either town I feel I have a bit of a head start over everyone else. In a pinch like today it saved a lot of hectic driving time.

I still live a few miles from the freeway though and it’s always a hassle getting back out there where civilization is. I’m getting to know the two lane farm roads out here but I still consider myself a city boy. In a perfect world I’d live right downtown in Chicago and not even need a car anymore. I’ve driven enough for not only my lifetime but about six more.

But this isn’t a perfect world and probably isn’t going to be any time soon. So until it is I’ll have to continue to live in Hooterville for a while until something pops. I’m getting an itch to move somewhere urban again but that would take more of a financial commitment than I really want to make right now. I can live cheaply here so that’s why I hang around.

Plus, most of the stuff I’m involved in is unbelievably fun. The only thing I feel like I’m missing is a financial cushion right now. I’m enjoying the hell out of all my radio projects and hosting the showcases at Zanies in Chicago and farting around with sports cards too.

I have a woman I’m seeing enough to at least keep it interesting and all that takes up my time quite nicely. Maybe it’s holding me back from chasing the brass ring and all that but a lot of my friends who are chasing it either aren’t finding it to be what they expected it to be or not coming close to it at all. Very few people are enjoying the ride but I totally am.

Jerry’s Kidders on WGN is great fun as is the Mothership Connection on WLIP but I’m not lying when I say hanging out with The D-List is the most fun of all. Absolutely every person at the station treats me like a king from the owner Craig Karmazin right on down.

That guy is as sharp as they come but he’s also surrounded himself with good energy all around. Every time I walk in that place I feel the pulse and I love to be around that vibe. It isn’t like that everywhere unfortunately so any time I can be a part of it I always say yes.

The program director Bill Johnson always greets me with a big grin or a firm handshake and says something to pump up the self esteem like “Man, you’re on FIRE today!” I think he means it but even if he doesn’t it sure sets a positive tone and makes me want to return again and again and someone must mean it because I keep getting calls to come back on.

The radio jobs I’ve had have all come attached with major hassles and stupidity and lots of meaningless minutia. Being a guest takes all of that away. I just go in and have fun and go back home. That’s what I did today and it was a blast. They can call me any old time.

Part of this goes a lot deeper than just hanging out with buddies though. This is how my vision has always been what a radio situation should be. The only reason I ever wanted to be on the radio was so people would know I was a comedian and hopefully come out and see me live. That’s it. But in almost twenty years in radio I’ve never been able to do it.

I’ve been fired all over the country by complete idiots and had to start all over again and then it would happen again in a different town. It’s taken me all this time to discover what I was really chasing the entire time. I wanted some approval from someone in my family.

It would have been nice to get it from my father but that was never going to happen. I’m not even sure if my mother is living or dead and she doesn’t have any emotional roots so I don’t think it was going to ever come from her either. My grandfather was wonderful but he was already gone by the time I started doing comedy and my grandmother didn‘t get it.

Looking back on it all I was going to show SOMEBODY I was worth something and it meant everything for me to be able to do it in Milwaukee because that’s my home town. It was important to me to know my father could hear me and whether he listened or not the fact that I was on in the same town made me feel like I had won. What a wasted chase.

I’m not saying it was right for me to do that but being totally truthful with myself that’s what I come up with as the answer. Robin Williams talked about trying to get the thumbs up from his father too but he never got it. Leslie Neilsen too. I’m sure TONS of not only comedians or performers but everyone in all walks of life want their old man‘s approval.

It always seems to boil down to the father too. Mothers are probably important but I’ve got no experience to back that up. Mine left early and my grandmother was a frosty cold German who didn’t give me a hug until I was 37. My sister and I never got along and we probably never will because she hasn’t spoken to me in sixteen years now. It’s the father.

I’ve spent years working through that tweak in my head and now that he’s dead I’m able to handle things a lot better and without emotions (mostly anger) clouding my thinking. It all seems so stupid and useless now. Why did I ever care what that loser thought of me?

Showing him that I was someone wouldn’t have done any good anyway. Even if I’d had the top radio show in Milwaukee or New York or the world it wouldn’t have changed any of the situation but in my pig headed youth I was sure it would. Now I know I was wrong but I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m going to choose to enjoy the rest of my life.

There are still some people in Milwaukee who are pissed off at me and that used to get me down but now I realize I’ve tried to make peace with every one of them and I tried my very best to right whatever wrongs I did but they don’t want to listen. Well, too bad then.

It is what it is but I’ve grown and continue to grow and learn and a day like today when I could sit around with good friends and laugh and also know I was helping someone was way more important than trying to get approval from my old man. I don’t need that now.

Pleasing A Tough Critic

Tuesday June 9th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

Sometimes life can be surprising in a good way. I love when that happens. Today I had no plans to see a movie but I ended up seeing ‘Land Of The Lost’ with Will Ferrell. I was in the Gurnee Mills mall getting my broken phone situation taken care of and I decided to take a lap as long as I was there. When I walked past the theatre that movie jumped out.

I remember the TV show when I was a kid and I didn’t really love it but it was a unique premise and they pulled it off long enough to keep it on the air a few years. Sid and Marty Krofft had several shows in the ‘70s that are lodged in the brains of my whole generation.

There’s ‘Sigmund and the Sea Monster’ and ‘H.R. Pufnstuf’ and ‘Banana Splits’ and a talking car show named ‘Wonderbug’ that my cousins used to watch religiously and told me every episode as a kid so I watched it myself just to get them to stop. But I remember it and I’m sure a lot of other people my age do too. I also remember ‘Land Of The Lost.’

The bad guys were known as ‘Sleestaks’ and were pretty intense for kids. I used to have nightmares about those damn things even though they were comical as I got older. It was a guy in a big green lizard suit and huge bug eyes but as a kid they were quite disturbing.

I had heard they were making a movie and I couldn’t picture how they’d pull that off. It wasn’t all that great of a show in the first place and I’ve never been much of a fan of Will Ferrell’s movies but for some reason something inside me told me to go see it. So I did.

There were about six people in the theatre when I walked in and at first it was a red flag but then I realized it was a Tuesday afternoon and I thought of how lucky I was to be able to go see a movie on a Tuesday afternoon if I wanted. My grandfather used to tell me that was what true wealth was - being able to do anything you want at any time. So, I’m rich!

It’s a good thing I am because I needed most of my wealth to mortgage some popcorn. I passed on the soda because I’m trying to at least cut back a little but I also wanted to have enough for rent next month. Four bucks? Now I’m starting to sound like my grandfather.

The movie started and I was totally blown away from start to finish. I loved it. It wasn’t at all like the TV show and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They put all the ingredients in place that movies usually have and it was formulaic in many ways but I still enjoyed it.

Will Ferrell’s character is pretty much the same one he plays in every movie but he had some really funny lines and I thought all the characters fit well together. The effects were spectacular too in my opinion, including the Sleestaks. This whole project was well done.

There were several hilarious scenes and I thought a lot more hits than misses. It was not at all what I expected but I went with it and it made me laugh out loud, even the poop and pee juvenile stuff. I’m not above that if it’s done well and that’s how they did it. If I put a film together that’s probably how I’d do it. I’m a tough critic but I really liked this movie.