As predicted in my last post, 2011 has already proven to be a very different kind of year. I’m not alone in thinking that things have turned a corner (in a good way) both personally and professionally. So far in 2011 I have moved across town to a new, and infinitely better location, I have had more meetings than I had in all of 2010 and I’m basically feeling good and I’m eager to see what comes next.
I have also finally gotten invited back to do the Sit-n-Spin show at the Comedy Central Stage. Since they book months in advance, I don’t have an exact show date yet, but the new producers contacted me and approved one of my submissions. I am thrilled. It is a great show, run by great people, in a great theater. I know it might sound a bit ‘Hollywood-y’ to say that sort of stuff, but in this case it happens to be true.
In other news: I forgot to mention that Ask A Punk turned three years old back in January, a milestone for any blog. Ask A Punk and my LA Cartoon blogs are now both ‘top hits’ in google searches too. Is that really a big deal? I honestly don’t know, but I think it is pretty cool.
Onward people! Strange times call for action!
“There ain’t much time left, you’re born out of this insane abyss and you’re going to fall back into it, so while you’re alive you might as well show your bare ass.”
— Jim Carroll
Just a few days ago I was in Northern California to attend the funeral of a woman who was just a month shy of her 103rd birthday when she died. I was lucky enough to have met her once a few years ago and had a great conversation with her. She was witty, “sharp” and completely aware of the world around her and of her place in it. There is a different kind of grief at a funeral for a centenarian… Since there is truly no sense of “she was taken so soon,” you realize that 99% of the sadness you’re feeling is really for yourself – for your loss, for the fact that you’ll miss her and for the less-escapable-than-usual fact that you too will someday be the guest of honor at a similar gathering… This final fact was made even more clear at the end of the service. Because this was a quietly traditional sort of funeral we were present to watch the lowering of the plain pine box into the earth and we all took our turns at the shovel, helping to cover her coffin in a final act of giving.
Today I woke up to discover that Jim Carroll had died at the comparatively young age of sixty. Granted, he did his physical body few favors throughout his life and I’m sure no one was more surprised than he was to be blowing out 60 candles on his last birthday cake. According to his official website, he died at his desk, working. I first became aware of JC in 1980 when, by some miracle, his first single “People Who Died” managed to get airplay on the one (dinosaur) rock station in my tiny hometown. I ran out and bought the album only to discover that the single quickly became my least favorite song … all the other tracks just blew me out of my chair. It was only after this introduction that I became familiar with all the books/writing that preceded his musical career. For me Jim Carroll bridged the gap between Rock and Punk… I think he was equal parts both and neither. Throw in his books and poetry and you had sort of a new Jim Morrison for the new (and meaner) seeming End Times that were the early 80’s (ask anyone who was there.) I got to meet him once after a show in Western Massachusetts. He had done some readings and some singing/guitar playing at a very small venue… nothing fancy. Afterward I chatted him up like the typical fanboy that I was, and I was struck by a guy who had made his choices and lived his life on his own terms, admitting that those terms weren’t always built on the healthiest of choices… but he owned them all and marched on.
This evening, when I got home from my daily (because I’m still not working) three hour walk, I discovered that Patrick Swayze had also died. This is also sad. By all accounts he was a good guy who put up a valiant and graceful battle with cancer. I hope he rests in peace as well… but I was also bummed that his death was now going to completely obliterate any coverage/recognition that Jim Carroll might have (finally) gotten this week… It was like Robert Mitchum all over again…
I’m a biiig Robert Mitchum fan. Even when I was a little kid, I knew a true badass when I saw one. I simply dug the guy long before I had the vocabulary to figure out why. When he died in 1997 I thought that he would finally get the sort of media coverage and send-off that would do justice to his career and (more importantly) his life – lived on his terms. ….but the next day Jimmy Stewart died… and once again strong, silent, slightly sinister Mitchum was overshadowed by a media-frenzy of grief over the passing of one of the biggest legends in Hollywood history. Tough break, kid.
…and finally, this morning I walked my beloved old ibook (G3) laptop down to the mac repair place and was given the bad news that the motherboard was fried… effectively meaning it would cost much more to repair the computer than it would ever possibly be worth (and nearly what it would cost to replace the machine altogether.) In its own small (and not so small) way this was a sad thing for me too. I bought this computer with money I had earned as a writer and, over several years of faithful service, it helped me earn quite a bit more cash. It definitely doesn’t “owe” me anything. Sure, it is a bit silly to get so attached to what is, essentially, just a “tool,” but we do get attached to such things and grow accustomed to how they look, sound, function & feel. Obviously I still have my “home” computer, so I can still work, write and update my social media, but I’ll miss the comforting heft of the thing in my backpack and the handy convenience of being able to set up shop at the library, at my girlfriend’s or at the cliche’-ridden coffeeshop. Yeah, the more I think about it, it is pretty silly to get worked up about a crashed computer, especially in light of all the other “loss” I’ve commented on in this post, but I’m ok with that… I’m also thankful that I am such a consummate nerd: I had (of course) backed up alllll of the data and work that was on my laptop… including 3 scripts in progress and a 1st draft of a book, as well as scads of notes, outlines, projects & ideas… so I didn’t really lose any data, just hardware.
I know this is not my usual sort of planetOCONNOR post. I don’t normally use this space to prattle on and on about “what is on my mind today” and all of that… but the truth is, it was a very tough day, after a tougher-than-usual week, and I wasn’t sure what to do with, or where to put, what I was feeling… So I decided to post it all here. Luckily I know (thanks to the “statistics” that wordpress provides) that there is precious little chance that anyone is going to stumble upon this post accidentally anyway… and I’m just fine with that.
Like the quote at the head of this post says: “There ain’t much time left.” Our blessing and our curse as frail humans is that we spend most of our lives forgetting or pretending to forget one simple fact: Our time here is limited and will come to an end, whether we’re famous celebrities, regular folks or motherboards. No one and no thing lasts forever. No exceptions.
A guy I know recently posted this on his website. I post it here for the dual purposes of reminding myself of these principles and for spreading their genius. If any of you don’t know who Bill Hicks was, start googling immediately…
BILL HICKS’ PRINCIPLES OF COMEDY
1. If you can be yourself on stage nobody else can be you and you have the law of supply and demand covered.
2. The act is something you fall back on if you can’t think of anything else to say.
3. Only do what you think is funny, never just what you think they will like, even though it’s not that funny to you.
4. Never ask them is this funny – you tell them this is funny.
5. You are not married to any of this shit – if something happens, taking you off on a tangent, NEVER go back and finish a bit, just move on.
6. NEVER ask the audience “How You Doing?” People who do that can’t think of an opening line. They came to see you to tell them how they’re doing, asking that stupid question up front just digs a hole. This is The Most Common Mistake made by performers. I want to leave as soon as they say that.
7. Write what entertains you. If you can’t be funny be interesting. You haven’t lost the crowd. Have something to say and then do it in a funny way.
8. I close my eyes and walk out there and that’s where I start, Honest.
9. Listen to what you are saying, ask yourself, “Why am I saying it and is it Necessary?” (This will filter all your material and cut the unnecessary words, economy of words)
10. Play to the top of the intelligence of the room. There aren’t any bad crowds, just wrong choices.
11. Remember this is the hardest thing there is to do. If you can do this you can do anything.
12. I love my cracker roots. Get to know your family, be friends with them.