Archive for May, 2013

The Musketeers of Urine Alley

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Two holier-than-thou cowards win one for the good guys.

The Musketeers of Urine Alley_Where Excuses Go to Die03As you watch the hugely viral video attributed to the Surprise Shower Guys of Allentown, Pennsylvania, what’s your assessment of the people being sprayed with revenge water? I bet you’re glad to be dry, for one, but you’re probably happy you’re not in their shoes for other reasons as well. Folks urinating in backstreet doorways must be in pretty bad shape, right? They’re probably not good people.

In fact, from the handy voiceover provided by the video’s creators, we know they’re not. Apparently, we know how “these people” think and talk, too: they’re the “animals” we’re always hearing about. And here they are, in their native habitat – an alley.

Look, at first I laughed too. But after the fifth or sixth spray, my gut told me there was something wrong here, and it starts with the arrogance conveyed by the video’s creators. Their camera looks down on people seeking a lousy 40 seconds of relief, and with their belittling, racist voiceovers, they clearly do too. But how many of them – and us – are really above peeing in an alley when the need arises? (more…)


Friday, May 24th, 2013

Should we call “Blame” and “Fault” special interest groups?

We say, “Change happens” with some resolve. It’s an existential observation, no doubt emanating from the same place that allows us to accept tornado “seasons.” But when did we become a country that assigns blame to the winds of change?

YOUR FAULTAnd we have become such a country – my guess is out of fear. With so much of American life shifting historically; with so many institutions, customs, ethnic characteristics, “norms,” and belief-systems being updated (or at least challenged); and with so many fading voices, the reactionary distrust, anger, and gloom is almost palpable in many parts of our “United” States.

People everywhere are looking for someone or something to blame. I’m counting the minutes ‘til some lawyer accuses the Oklahoma sky of negligence. (more…)

Josh Blue is Where Excuses Go to Die

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

 Creator of the “Palsy Punch” is still swinging that “arm”

Pasly PunchIn my love of all things standup, near the top of my favorites list is the sterotype-defying Josh Blue, who rose to fame on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. Cerebral palsy may have its grip on Josh, but his audiences see only the spirit and soul of a hundred three-legged horses rushing the corral gate.

Josh works to change our perceptions of people with disabilities by shoving, ‘er shaking, them into the spotlight and relishing the discomfort the rest of us must get past as a result. If you’re not familiar with Blue’s comedy, you’re in for an uplifting surprise – and not like, “oh look, the boy in the wheel chair made a funny!” His bits are as relevant to fans as airport TSA screenings. (His proposed “No Ham, No Fly” screening policy is brilliant.) Blue’s no Zach Galifianakis, which is good, especially since million-dollar paychecks don’t really measure comedic success when your stock-in-trade  –an awkward physical presence–  isn’t an act. And for the record, no material Galifianakis offers is nearly as original or free of artificiality.

If you subscribe to cable’s Showtime, you can catch Josh Blue: Sticky Change running ’til the end of this month. It’s workman-like, practiced comedic craft. And though no Internet clips can match “Sticky Change” for irreverence and hilarity, YouTube has no shortage of Josh Blue samples for you to check out. The best of ’em, I think, are those that challenge people’s comfort zones, like when Blue pretends to be homeless or approaches a random gangbanger on the street for help with opening a popsicle. “It’s hard to look hard when you’re opening a Popsicle!”

It’s reverse teasing, as he calls it: “I’m makin’ fun you, makin’ fun of me, by making fun of me  –again–  and somehow cripple comes out on top!” Ah, but don’t confuse Josh Blue’s self-deprecating humor with some condescending “It’s okay to laugh!” tour of your own stereotypes of physical disability. That element is there for those who need it, but everyone is first required to get over their pity reflex. This stuff is funny; not just funny-from-a-guy-with-palsy.


Josh Blue was meant to lead by example and lead he does, sometimes with a middle finger in the air. I can think of no comedian working a microphone today who brings together audiences more diverse than Josh Blue. He’s clever, witty, and tremendously admirable – not least of all for his refusal to make excuses.

The United States of Suspects

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

File This One Under: Advice for Parents, Children and Teens

Notes6Tuesday, April 23 – posts an article linking the online Al Qaeda recruiting publication “Inspire” to bomb-making plans used in Boston. Soon after, here in L.A., “Charlie” clicks on a link contained in the piece that takes him to the Jihadist magazine itself. He explores it, without questioning why such a hot-potato link was live, instead of just explained.

At 6:25 the next morning, Charlie’s condo door is nearly pounded off its hinges. Whizzing past his 18-month-old daughter’s crib, he marvels at her solid sleep. The peephole view through the door is of several LAPD officers and ATF agents. He turns the handle to find game faces and drawn sidearms. Boots instantly become doorstops. Their respective uniforms are tactical, but reasonably so. Still, they’re big, amped, and all going at once.

“Step back. You’re gonna wanna step back.”

“Are you alone? Step back.”

“We have a report of a man seen in your window waving a firearm.”

“Hold on, what?” Charlie demands, alarmed at their inching inward.

“Where are your weapons?”

“Hey, wait,” Charlie implores. “I have my 18-month-old daughter here!”

“Will you consent to a search of your property?”

“A man in your window was seen from the street with a handgun.”

“I don’t own a handgun! I have no firearms here.”

“Yes you do – a Ruger American, 270.”

“I just bought that. A friend is sighting it for me.”

“At what location?”

“You didn’t get the scope option?”

“Will you allow us further entry to check for ourselves?”

“Go ahead and look! It isn’t here. I have a baby, so I don’t keep guns here.”

They fan out into the living room, dining area, and next to the plasma by the big window in question. Charlie doesn’t merit a strategic takeover of his living room or his life, so he’s clueless but calm. As it hits him that this is really happening, he wonders why it feels like both an honor and an insult. (more…)

L.A. County Jail – My Yelp Review

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Yelp reviews of prisons and jails? Fantastic. Count me in.

YELP_Where Excuses Go to Die I couldn’t be happier to throw in my 2¢, so here goes:

Itching for that classic nightmare detention experience? Look no further than L.A. County’s Men’s Central Jail, located at the 9th Circle of Hell in downtown Los Angeles.

If you’ve seen prison movies or watched cable TV handcuff porn, you may think you know what to expect. Yet L.A.’s 2nd oldest jail never fails to surprise and inform. Not only will your experience unlock the power of contingency-based behavioral conditioning, you’ll travel down an interpersonal rabbit hole of unimaginable depth, where each “teachable moment” is more fantastic than the last.

LA COUNTY HELLSo ask yourself: how much would you pay for a vacation souvenir that allows you to walk away from annoying coworkers with the knowledge that they wouldn’t last two minutes in the trauma grinder from which you’ve just emerged? Even your overbearing boss would be reduced to a bedwetting mute! Every time you see a self-important schmuck rolling up his car window at the sight of an approaching homeless person, you’ll be able to call up the memory of what happened to that uppity lawyer from Encino, awaiting arrangement on DUI number five. Whoops! He didn’t see that on MSNBC’s “Lockup!”