Thursday, July 14, 2011

Head Out On That Highway...But Not This Weekend

Get your motor running, head out on the highway,
Looking for adventure in whatever comes our way.


A steel and metal tsunami of cataclysmic enormity rolls our way this weekend. A wave which will be so unstoppable in its ferocity and mindless in its destructive potential that Republican politicians are already chafing at the bit to privatize it and give it its own Caribbean tax shelter. Expect streets clogged with homeless refugees, territorial and tribal warfare, children wailing for food, adults suicidal in their helplessness. We will bear witness to the final breakdown of an already broken down society. The world missed the Rapture last month. Los Angeles can not avoid The Rupture. This weekend could see a body count up there with Antietam.

I’m dressing in camouflage, duck taping the windows, hiding the car in the bushes. My command position will be fortified: I'll be hunkered down with Doritos and beer; filling old vodka bottles with new vodka; setting up the gun turrets; stockpiling the batteries; and opening the ham radio. The local stores have been raided for sunscreen, tuna, and hydrocortisone. I read through my last will and testament and realized the only thing left worth leaving to anyone should I not survive this weekend are the two loads of washed laundry on my bed and some unscratched Boston area lottery tickets.

I’m praying the electrical grind remains intact -- at least until I see the latest episode of "Celebrity Rehab" and the start of Season 4 premiere of "Breaking Bad." After that don’t really care what happens. I’ve made my peace with my Maker. Let HIM deal with the creditors at Bank of America and Citigroup.

This Friday (July 15th), at 10PM, the 405, one of the most traveled freeway systems in the world, closes shop between the 10 and the 101 for 53 hours. Both directions! No access at all! No single lane operational on either side! If these freeway numbers mean nothing to you, then I pity you fools for living anywhere other than Los Angeles. 100s of thousands of cars, trucks, military vehicles, motorcyclists and the occasional fool walking along the shoulder use this route daily to travel from one stretch of paradise to some other Nirvana in Southern California. Sealing off the 405 is like ripping out your aorta and tossing it to a pack of angry beavers. What happened to LA in the film "2012" was quaint in comparison to what will soon occur here.

Los Angelinos do not like outside forces disrupting the chilling flow of normal freeway traffic. Car crashes, overturned semis, mud slides, earthquakes, brush fires, police chases, and even Presidential motorcades during rush hour are tolerated with blind fury because drivers know that body parts will be swept away, vehicles will be turned upright, rains will cease, moving earth will stop, fires will be extinguished, criminals will be caught and beaten into submission before helicopter cameras, and Presidents will finally wave bye bye.

So what gives here? Haven’t we Angelinos suffered enough? The State is bankrupt. We have no action hero for Governor. Tower Records no longer exists on the Strip. The paparazzi run wild in the streets. Many upscale restaurants on Montana Drive have downscaled into disappearance.
According to Caltrans, the agency that puts out orange cones and leaves them there, this 10 mile stretch is the final length of road between the far northern part of the Valley and some magical point somewhere below Patagonia without a diamond lane, that freeway magic carpet ride allowing two or more passengers in a car to flee away from their original destination quicker than single occupancy vehicles.

Southern California has been widening its freeway system since the days of the Spanish Missions. The wider we make our freeways, the more vehicles appear on them. It’s some sort of mathematical principle first elucidated by a Caltech genius named Sidney Moundstreet: for every open freeway space, a vehicle of equal or greater length must occupy that space. A 13 episode story arc on "Doctor Who" based itself around this equation and something involving space vampires. Californians have been known to purchase extra SUVs merely to keep the math correct.

This weekend's disruption is about a bridge. This is either a bridge too far or not far enough. Half of the north side of the Mulholland Drive Bridge will be demolished this weekend. Because of the state's fiscal crisis, California sold MDR to Arizona to mate with its London Bridge. Another stupid, short-sighted decision as such breeding lead only to angry un-American toll roads. This billion dollar exercise in shoveling dirt from one side of the freeway to the other side and beyound means commuters will now be able to move through the
Sepulveda Pass at a snail’s pace rather than at no pace.

We Southern Californians live in our cars especially now with the recession. No one walks in this area of the country because there is nothing of interest that we can walk to. All life is just far enough away for the use of an automobile. Like a Starbucks.

Most Californians use the two person lane because they are stuck with their spouses, or they’re transporting kids to soccer meets, or they happen to be teenagers heading to some motel to check out bed bug infestation. I love driving alone. It might be selfish and egocentric on my part, but I’m in a serene spiritual zone when cruising solo as I yell expletives at the assholes around me.

I rarely use the 405 during the weekends except to go on geographically undesirable dates. It’s quicker to sit home and astral project oneself to a destination. But is that really the point? It’s an American right not to be inconvenienced by anything. If I wanted to have life made difficult for me, I’d join the European Union. Whether I have use for the 405 on any given weekend or not, I demand the opportunity to sit in bumper to bumper traffic, swearing a blue streak, crawling the Sepulveda Pass and wishing I was anywhere else but. As Michele Bachmann has said, “The Founding Fathers wouldn’t have written it in the Constitution with the words "Going Nowhere Fast and Loving It" if they didn’t believe it.”

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bada Bing Bin Laden

Not only did the Navy Seals force Bin Laden to go hunt up an ophthalmologist in his after-life (good luck finding anyone named Cohen, Schwartz or Rosenberg in his address book), but the treasure trove of information, both personal and tactical, discovered in his bedroom demonstrates how the world’s most hunted 6’4” dialysis patient could stay concealed for so many years in a garrison town full of ex-Army officers. While much of the hard intelligence will remain classified until the Pentagon rehires all of the qualified gay Arabic speakers given the boot over the last decade, Waki-leaks, through the assistance of Rosetta Stone language DVD’s, has begun to disseminate onto the web selected bits and pieces of Bin Laden's day to day activities.

He worked the graveyard shift at one of the many Abbottabad call centers set up over the last decade by US companies to better implement American workers’ understandings of the benefits of globalization. Bin Laden’s moniker among his fellow employees was Hiram from Kentucky, because of his penchant for beginning each day with a Tequila shooter and a Wild Turkey chaser. Records now reveal his specialty was assisting callers using dial-up services and DOS operating drives. Reprimanded several times for both running bookie rings on cricket matches and sexually harassing rattan furniture not fully clothed in wool, Bin Laden still made employee of the month thirty times in the six years he worked there. He signed off each of his calls with “Death to the Infidels. Have a nice day.” With women callers it was simply, “Are you married?”

While the released video is as grainy as an early cut of "Blair Witch," it appears that at the time of his death he was standing at a table clipping out Groupon coupons for a variety of Middle Eastern restaurants such as Pita in Your Pocket and Souvlaki on the Run, while swaying to Judas Priest’s Living After Midnight, which this time around, he barely did. This is all rather shocking as both of these fast food chains have had disastrous reviews as of late in Zagats, many reviewers calling both establishments ptomaine traps fit only for Bin Laden. Sadly his classic Walkman was also blown to bits.

Further examination of the bedroom reveals that right above his futon were several Twilight Posters covered with large red heart stickers and a stained but laminated 3 by 5 foot picture of Pamela Anderson. To the right side, on a poorly constructed IKEA shelf, was a Flint vs Zartan Diorama collectible along with a complete box set of original G-I Joes from the late 60s. Strangely, he had kept as mementos a number of his name tags from prior attendances at Comic Con where he walked the halls under the alias “Truck Speedtrap.”

A book about cave art, Unique Creations: Death be upon all Infidels, lay nearby. Downloaded from the Internet, this small but highly influential pamphlet is part of the growing projectile vomiting art movement. In Bin Laden’s case, his foods of choice that evening were saffron pilaf, chickpeas, and baba ghanoush. One cannot tell how successful he was as a budding artist as loose runny brain matter obscures much of his impressionist work, turning the words “death” into “earth” and infidels into “infield.”

Who would have thought that the world’s greatest terrorist wore bunny slippers to bed or had in his possession old pirated VHS copies of Green Acres and My Mother the Car, or was a major collector of homo-erotic prison films? Scattered around the room were half inch tapes of Bronson, Short Eyes, God Has a Rap Sheet, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and Midnight Express. Unfortunately in the ensuing fire fight, the Seals shot up possibly the last working 8 track and VCR player in Asia.

Next to his grandfather clock on the far wall were a set of opened jewel cases for Sweaty Sheep of Tora Bora and Mammaries of the Himalayas. No reference to either movie appears on IMDB so perhaps these were simply their Bangkok titles. Reports that he had on his bed a mix tape featuring the Bangles, Squeeze, Cat Stevens, Connie Stevens, Craig Stevens, Connie Francis, and Lou Christy cannot be confirmed at this time.

The most surprising find is Bin Laden’s actual Bucket List carved into the bucket he kept by his bed. His well known phobia towards flush toilets can now be confirmed. While much of what was written on various scraps of paper are still being cleansed and analyzed by a team of fecal throwing monkeys, here is what we know so far. Even with a bunch of wives, the man had needs far beyond that of a working kidney. Listed in no specific order of importance because pulling piles of shit out of a wooden bucket becomes a random exercise at best.


• Kill that snot nosed infidel Achmed for making fun of my name at the Madrassa. I am not Been Laiden lately Osama. Laiden isn’t even a word, you dumb poopy head.

• Must apply to be contestant on Dancing with the Stars. Partner with that hot Chador from Tora Bora with the WTF fear in her eyes. Her every move made my pants samba by themselves. Wonder if still alive.

• Be on Cops and ride around with those burly male New Orleans police officers. Yell out to felons while beating them, “Book em Dano.”

• Kidnap Jerry Springer and create show where all my wives, mistresses, and kids scratch each other’s eyes out. Must kidnap audience as well.

• Deep sea fish off the Arabian Coast.

• Get GED.

• Do both Thelma and Louise.

• Guest host on Fox and Friends and hit on all the blond non-believers.

• Learn how to make a brisket.

• Find someone who wants to trade working kidney for high strength marijuana.

• Get invited to red carpet of any movie featuring Channing Tatum or Jason Momoa.

• Find out what poking means on FACEBOOK.

• Wear Red Socks tee shirt at a Yankees Game. Boo Jeter.

• Be an annoying stringer for TMZ.

• Lecture high schoolers in the South and Midwest on abstinence.

• Blog on the Huffington Post, but ask for gelt.

• Party with Charlie Sheen; dress up as warlock.

• Meet my favorite rapper: Vanilla Ice.

• Drive a Winnebago with trailer hitch testicles.

• Fight THE ROCK in the squared circle; wrestle under the alias “Circus Strassburger.”

• Do musical dinner theatre in Iowa especially Bye Bye Birdie or Cats.

• Speak to Steve Jobs about his GPS tracking devices.

• Watch what doctors really do during a colonoscopy.

• Get into a bar fight with Hooter girls.

• Take a boatload of Viagra and then get on Chat Roulette.

• Perform at the Laugh Factory using old Henny Youngman jokes. “Take my sheep, please.”

• Hit on Harvard girls with a line like: “I guarantee you’ve never seen anything this size in camel hair before.

• Enter my prize shiatsu in the Westminster Kennel Show.

• Improve abs using the Paul Ryan (R-Wis) exercise tape.

• Follow John Wesley Powell’s journey down the Grand Canyon but blindfolded.

• Pen my multicultural children’s book, Infidels Are Just Like Everyone Else Except Cursed. Try to find words that rhyme with “death,” “camels,” and “Tora Bora” other than Hora.

• Sit in a vintage GTO at Zuma Beach while watching submarine races with Ayman al-Zawahiri daughter from his fifth wife. Need to create excuse why I would be with her in the backseat without a male chaperon.

• Pitch my version of the Crusades to Bruckheimer. Must remember to find Jewish agent.

• Go leafing in New England.

• Start a book club. First books on list: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

• Walk the Appalachian Trail with wife number two of Ramzi bin al-Shibh.

Just in. Another White House version of how Bin Laden was located and killed. In this update, Bin Laden was still so angry at the American Idol booting of Pia Toscano, that he was, at the time of his death, working his thumbs texting messages to Randy Jackson to get the popular vote rescinded. The answer came back, “Dawg, you're in the zone now!”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Prairie Home Con-panion

H.L. Mencken once said: A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.

I love Michele Bachman because she's from Minnesota, and I'm not. Every time she opens her mouth, I check her hair coloring. If stupid remarks were a crime, she'd never leave the courtroom. When Michele Bachman stands before a crowd and talks of our glorious history, I can hear Texas School Board members scream out, “Told you Maud, home schooling works even for them Northerners.”

Bachman represents a portion of the Minnesota electorate who relish being represented in Congress by someone living in an alternate universe. So I was wondering what sort of fifth grade social studies test she might have taken years ago to prepare herself for the national poltical stage.

Thanks to Google “You Betcha,” I was able to find one of Michele’s earlier grade school tests.

What state is Duluth, Minnesota in?

The Cold War was an ongoing international conflict between

1) Kenmore and Westinghouse
2) Any husband and wife
3) The Arctic and Antarctica
4) Those who lived in Florida and those who vacationed there for the winter

Alexander Graham Bell invented

1) Graham crackers
2) The Liberty Bell
3) Belle from Beauty and the Beast
4) Nothing worth speaking about

The Revolutionary War was fought to

1) Give the French something to do when not surrendering
2) Free the Indians, slaves, and other white people
3) Destroy secular humanists
4) Make sure all the guns worked properly

Lewis and Clark

1) Were two famous quarterbacks who played early baseball
2) Were with Columbus when he sailed up the Hudson
3) Were joint presidents during the Civil War
4) Were women

The United Nations was founded

1) To make Manhattan feel important
2) By Russian Communists looking for the Northwest Passage to Brooklyn
3) To give Fox News something to rail against
4) Because the League of Nations was too long to spell

The Red Scare

1) Was the threat that Cincinnati would win the World Series
2) Followed the Blue Yellow and Mauve scare
3) Is a dyslexic version of Red Rum
4) Happens when running a yellow light in front of a cop

Slavery was bad for America because

1) We couldn’t ship those jobs overseas
2) Singing slaves made better music than Swedish homesteaders
3) It produced excess federal funding for underground railroads
4) It was!!!

American Literature is the world’s best because

1) It’s written in English
2) Self help books are written nowhere else
3) It’s remaindered quickly
4) It uses the same letters as the Bible

What four presidents are represented on the face of Mt. Rushmore?

1) Reagan and three others
2) What’s Mt. Rushmore?
3) Presidents from Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky
4) Are the two Roosevelts’ the same person?

Final essay question: What are your thoughts about whether loaded guns should be brought to high schools in the same book bags as beer?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

15,000 Wasted Heartbeats

Things I did while watching this year’s presentation of the Oscars:

I checked to see if my pulse was running slower than the pace of the show. I was lucky. Were it I would now be dead.

I began painting my apartment the color of ennui. Then I broke into the apartment next door just to see if darkness was more exciting.

At the 127th hour of the telecast I cut off my right arm just to have something to do.

I tried to guess the color and bird of The Black Swan.

I picked up stuttering.

I cleaned my refrigerator of last year’s Oscar leftovers.

I defriended myself.

I called up strangers to ask if their kids were alright.

I wondered if Gaddafi had truly sent the Academy his very best crack comedy writers.

I texted an old girlfriend to come over and beat me to death with a claw hammer so I could say the evening wasn’t a complete waste.

I looked up the words “inception” and “contraception” to see whether their root was what I was feeling at the moment: constipation.

I read the Tea Party Manifesto backwards and in German.

I counted the number of flabby triceps exposed whenever a sleeveless winner strode onto the stage.

I turned onto C Span 3 to see what books were being discussed in 1996.

I tore out my chest hair and super glued it to my face to resemble Christian Bale.

I volunteered to pass someone else's kidney stone.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Justus D. Barnes

Some dates just should be remembered.

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the passing of Justus D. Barnes. Apparently,not much is known about this gentleman's life. Even the author of his Wikipedia article can barely scratch out a couple of words. He does have a FACEBOOK entry and there is his IMDB listing. Yet Justus would have faded into the background during those pre-Nickelodeon days of movie making were it not for the last scene from the seminal 1903 movie, THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY. Barnes' iconic immortality is assured as the outlaw who lifts his Colt revolver and shoots straight into the camera lens at the end of the film.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Horton Hears a Who... A Brett Who!

As a kid I wanted to grow up to be either Vince Lombardi or one of those chimps shot off into outer space. Before Lombardi arrived in Green Bay in 1959, the town was so depressed about its professional football team (in 1958, the team went 2-10) that city plans were in the works to move the entire community to the Navarino State Wildlife area and sell all its beachfront property to Michigan. Lombardi shows up, Green Bay becomes Titletown, and Michigan, well Michigan is never heard from again. The closest I ever came to becoming Vince Lombardi was walking around the campus of Fordham University. As for the chimp, well I still drink my milk out of straws.

This Sunday I will be wearing a cheesehead on my natural cheesehead. I will be half naked, my concave chest painted with shiny green and gold lacquer. My man breasts will be exposed for the entire world to see, and I will care not a whit whether or not I have a clothing malfunction. I will lock the doors, shut the windows, disconnect the landlines, and turn off the cell.

The last time Green Bay went to the Big Dance (January 25, 1998), I developed so many depressive looks as the clock ticked down to its inevitable end that the people around me thought I was auditioning for a Bergmann movie. The officers arresting me for my funereal chest wailing were bemused Broncos fans, of that I am certain. I still remember them holding me down while they tore up my betting slips from the Bellagio.

I was taught a lesson that day. Never ever watch a Super Bowl at a Chuck E. Cheese. The management becomes very suspicious about random hysterical outbursts from an adult not associated with any particular barbarian children around him. The kids started screaming at the thought that their single moms were once more bringing home a chemically dependent male with anger management issues.

I have always loved Super Bowl Sunday. It’s the one day out of the year where I remodel my man cave from French provincial to Paleolithic Rustic and kick back with a cigar in one hand and an electric cattle prod in the other. The prod is not for any S & M usage (at least not on that day). It's mere presence keeps me awake long enough to remember to munch piles of Doritos and to lap down cases of Ensure. Most games become so dull within minutes of kick-off, I'm half asleep by the start of the second quarter. Select programmed prod jolts wake me up to view the commercials and witness any planned half time nudity involving body parts owned by 50% of the world’s population and coveted by most of the other 50%. Otherwise it's a typical Sunday afternoon: an old man dozing off in his recliner, Doritos flecks around the lips.

I no longer am allowed to drink during any sporting events -- even when watching in the comfort of my apartment. A judge’s orders and that pesky electronic bracelet that shoots 50,000 volts up my backside when I even think of a case of Coronas is a clear enough deterrent. How a sequoia found itself riding my grill in Yosemite I’ll never know, but I pleaded no contest after I saw the seated jury. I swear they all resembled out of work conifers.

This year, the Green Bay Packers will play some team, the name of which thankfully escapes me at the moment. As is the case with any Packer broadcast, I will eagle-eye the game alone as most of my remaining friends find my preparations leading up to any Packer kickoff both creepy and unsettling. I’m from Wisconsin: So sue me. Those of us born and bred in America’s Dairyland care only about dairy consumption, affordable cholesterol medication, the availability of Indian casinos, stopping the Commie-Socialist-Pinko lefties in Madison, and The Green Bay Packers.

Somewhere in this black hole I call an apartment are autographed pictures of Bart Starr, Max McGee and Fuzzy Thurston. I haven’t seen the photos in years; but I know they are carefully snuggled in the pages of my grade school dictionary, the one I used to flatten maple, oak, and elm leaves as a science experiment. I don’t remember how I got the autographs, but back then sports legends didn’t ask 25 bucks for their John Hancocks. You marched up to them and they signed. Of course it was deer season at the time and I was carrying a rifle. Only in Wisconsin could a pickup line boasting of your presence at Lambeau Field on December 31st, 1967 get you some action. Out here in Los Angeles, an Ice Bowl is something you purchase at William Sonoma.

I’m not a superstitious individual: I pet black cats; I walk under ladders; I have no problem with elevators that let me off on the thirteenth floor -- unless the structure only has twelve stories. On occasion, I have even dated women with cloven hoofs and the mark of the beast on their foreheads. Desperate times call for desperate measures. But when it comes to Packer games, I’m a different person. I devolve into rituals that would scare away Celtic high priests at Stonehenge.

On most Sundays I can keep my ceremonial prayers to a minimum, especially as Los Angeles stations criminally fail to broadcast all Packer games (as if I can afford a six thousand dollar a year complete sports package). My antics no longer cause panic among my neighbors or visits from either the police or fire departments. Sometimes alley cats chime in, but that usually only occurs when the Packers play away games.


This Saturday night I will drive to an Indian casino. I will find one in California rather than make my normal trek into Arizona. I no longer go to any casino believing I will win anything other than the gratitude of the casino managers and quarterly scorn from the State Franchise board. I will simply continue a tradition first begun many years ago when I had the good fortune to secure a couple of tickets late on a Saturday night playing an illegal game of poker at the University of Wisconsin student union. Poker that night was good to me.

Exactly 5 hours before kickoff, I will bathe in a wash of micro breweries imported from Milwaukee and Black River Falls. I’ve tried beers from Rhinelander and Oconto Falls, but find the suds mix poorly with the day-old bath water and the wash and wear laundry I usually bathe in. I have no idea why I do this, since I cannot drink any of the contents and the water plays havoc with my electronic bracelet. My therapist believes as a child I was frightened by the Hamm's Bear.

Chanting to the gods of victory will come next. I used to recite every French or Algonquin city name in the state, but so many existed I never got around to watching the games. I moved from those prayers to enumerating only the counties with Native Indian names. I stopped when I realized I was also including names found in both Iowa and Minnesota. Now I will only repeat the State motto, FORWARD, and drink down a quart of buttermilk. To truly insure a Packer victory, I will mumble in a sing song fashion the words Chequamegon, Wausaukee, Neenah Menasha and Oconomowoc. I hope I need not go as far as to utter the term, Sheboygan.

Painting myself in the colors of green and gold has now taken on a life of its own especially since I currently use an oil based mixture. Granted, the post-game stripping of the paint from certain sensitive masculine parts feels as if I’m having an internal Brazilian wax, but the pain is worth it… especially after a hard fought Packer victory. In a Packer defeat, well, I will suffer along with the team, though sniffing paint thinner long enough will allow me to forget whether the team won or lost, what country I'm in, and whether I am now of a different gender.


I then will offer up a faux burnt sacrifice. In previous years, this procedure in the middle of my apartment, using charcoal and lighter fluid, has cost me precious time away from my television set whilst I explained myself down at the West Los Angeles Police Station. Also, I’ve discovered that none of the fire departments who get the call are Packer backers; instead the members appear to be surly, mean-spirited followers of the Bears, Vikings, or Giants. Now I will simply mime my way through the ceremony on Sunday, although I probably will still burn dust bunnies, lint, and used Downey fabric softener in my ex-girlfriend's Tupperware containers. She never used them anyway when she was around.

I will not try to drive my new station wagon up three flights of stairs to approximate a Lambeau Field tailgating party. I already have several hernias, rotator cuff problems and a suspicious looking DMV license. What happened to my last car during the Philadelphia game of several weeks ago was an accident; at least that’s how I plan on pleading next week. I never realized that grease leaking from an indoor hibachi could consume cloth seats so quickly.

During any play that moves the ball, I will high five anyone of a number of blow up dolls that all look like Vince Lombardi.

For a Packer field goal, the sound of deflated tom-toms as I pat my stomach will ring out. For a touchdown, I will pat down other areas. I have yet to figure out what to do for a touchback.

During half time, I will run to a roof a half a mile away and view the rest of the game through high-powered binoculars. This will approximate the Lambeau Field experience of my youth. Back then, my seats were so high and far away I was actually watching the game from Manitoba.

I will be using my “We Will Never Forget You Brent" tee shirt as a coaster.