Fear and Loathing. Near American Idol.


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Lt. Frank FFIREHS of Vegas90210.com.  A different kind of law enforcement cheetah.
A vaguely familiar motorcycle cop interrupted my stride with a question. He wore the LAPD film division patch.  I am a card-carrying member of the Screen Actors Guild.  Previously on my IMDb, I may have seen him securing one of the many shows and films I’ve worked on location throughout LA.  He would not have witnessed me sporting a mustache, short shorts and rainbow tactical leg warmers.  As a TV and film actor who frequently delivers gripping performances (Without. Saying. A Word.), I’m typically cast as a clean cut businessman, detective, cop … or even LAPD.  But walking home yesterday I was my character Lt. Frank FFIREHS of Vegas90210.com.  Who many consider to be the impression of that guy from Reno 911!  Who Tom Lennon calls “my doppelganger“.  And “bigger“.  
Who is Tom Lennon?  (Sorry Tom, people ask. Clearly a crime against humanity.)  Tom is that guy.  The original Lt. Dangle of Reno 911! and Reno 911!: Miami.  He’s also that guy,  Felix #5 on The Odd Couple on CBS.  No, not that guy from Friends.  Or Rob Schneider.  Tom (together with frequent collaborator Robert Ben Garant) wrote the Night at the Museum films.  (he put words in Robin Williams’ mouth.)  For comedy nerds and Marc Maron, he’s that guy from The State.  Oh, and remember that time you dropped acid and spent the day at The Getty?  You were actually watching the Terrence Malick film Knight of Cups.  Tom Lennon and the Dark Knight were involved.  Anyway, I digress.  (But only with painstakingly narcissistic purpose.  As an ex girlfriend rocket scientist employed by a Fortune 500 warfare dealer once noted, I’m merely an “AMW”: Actor, Model, Whatever.)
MightyMighty
Tom Lennon yells “Mark!”  This time he’s manfully striding towards me on foot, not doing yet another “Wassup” drive-by on Hollywood Boulevard.  Then the original Lt. Dangle and Felix #5 says:  “This is Dicky Barrett of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.”
Back to our thrilling story.  Intensely curious, the stalwart officer inquired what I was doing in my costume. “What is this all about?” he demanded, while guarding where William Hung just sang “She Bangs”. Yeah.  The officer was working security for American Idol‘s last stand at the Dolby Theater.  Yet somehow I was obligated to break character.  To explain myself. As a busker, a performing artist. As seen at Beacher’s Madhouse at the Roosevelt Hotel (and the MGM Las Vegas).  As seen on TMZ.  As seen in The Hollywood Reporter.  As seen on ABC.  Bakersfield.  Explain my costumed self.  In Hollywood. Steps from where Oscars are awarded.
This is my life.  This is why I’m the Eagle Scout honor student life has instructed to openly mock authority.  But wait.  It gets weirder.  Weirder than Presidential candidate Ted Cruz auditioning for the remake of The Princess Bride.
Remaining in character, I respond to our earnest officer “I protect the Boulevard from democracy and Jimmy Kimmel“.  (Who is Jimmy Kimmel?  Fair question.  You know.  Jimmy.  Not drunk Jimmy.  The other Jimmy.  The one with the podcast.  Broadcast from an abandoned Illuminati bed and breakfast.  On Hollywood Boulevard.)  This usually earns a laugh.  Or a smile.  Or at least a look of recognition that I’m acting, spouting cartoon crazy and not about to break character. Law enforcement increasingly gets the joke lately.  Earlier that day a female LAPD officer shared with me the speculation among her colleagues of what I might be off the boulevard.  “You’re not like the others”. Their guess?  I’m a grade school teacher.  (Why do I say female?  We need more of them in uniform.  I watch them frequently and effortlessly reach for their … brains.  What do they know that too many male LAPD officers apparently don’t?)
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Beacher’s Madhouse often feels less insane than what Fortune 500’s and upright citizens wage on humanity daily.
But this LAPD officer dude guarding American Idol from their just deserts remained serious.  Serious as a legacy network executive ordering ten new reality TV shows. “What’s wrong with democracy?” I reply: “Democracy gave us American Idol, the Kardashians and Donald Trump.” I had gone a busker move too far. But my crime wasn’t trashing American Idol, loved by too many.  (Despite the fact that as reality TV, it and its competition show ilk exploits non-union talent.  If one is unfortunate enough to win, the contracts heavily favor the producers.  Not the winning contestants.) I even had to dampen my “American Idol is Evil” rants earlier in the day (some to people queuing for Idol – on my Periscope, naturally) because a friend who just performed on the final Idol show informed me Ryan Seacrest had helped his music career. He shared this, breathlessly returning to work. At a restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard. I don’t know if that is commentary on Seacrest or how America treats upcoming artists.  Or both.
No, my crime to this LAPD film division officer was to suggest ANYTHING derogatory.  About Donald Trump. “Who are you going to vote for, Bernie or Hilary? They’re communists! We need someone better than Barack Hussein Obama. He’s the worst president ever.” I’m biting my lip, staying in happy go-lucky character, increasingly aware that I’m a fake cop packing a Central American banana and this is a real cop packing at least one very real gun, probably crafted with pride in ‘merica. And he’s not having any of what his old school grumpy clearly considers subversive nonsense. He patronizingly asks me whether I’m even registered to vote.  Do I appreciate how precious that right is, that people of certain sexual orientations would be quickly killed in Saudi Arabia?  Apparently he thinks I’m gay.  Hard to tell his thoughts on the Rob Schneider question.
Nick Swardson
Nick Swardson (“Terry” on Reno 911!) may be wearing sweat pants.  But at least he’s not wearing shower slippers and sporting cargo shorts pride.
“Who else is there, Ted Cruz?”  I triple down in character: “Oh, is that the guy who auditioned for the remake of The Princess Bride?”  Apparently that reference was too subtle for LAPD: Falling Down Edition.  Perhaps he missed the reaction from Mandy Patinkin in TIME magazine to the Aspiring Actor Street Preacher from the Great Nation of Texas relating to the folks on the campaign trail.  LAPD impatiently schools me: “No, he’s running for President of the United States”.  The hair on the back of my neck stands at attention, much as I used to during military drill in Boy Scouts.  Or at mock boot camp in the Delayed Entry Program for the United State Marine Corps.  That one time.  Before I found out someone put me on the FBI’s Subversives List.
I flashback to college, standing in front of Hillsdale President George Roche, who condescendingly invites me to “just let it go”. The “Harvard of the Midwest” had dismissed me for accepting free college folders without proper authorization.  The man who was currently banging his son’s wife while raising millions for a college proudly defending “family, church and local community” was offering me a quid pro quo: shutter my independent student newspaper and we’ll welcome you back to the “Hillsdale family”.
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I’m like Greg Proops.  I’m not gay.  And I make absolutely no case for it.  I require Greg’s Smartest Man in the World Podcast.  For the wild boars.  For Jeremy Irons.  For the kittens.  And for any neglected vodka flavored vodka drinks.
In a nano second I’m back, facing this veteran LAPD cop devoid of humor or propriety. I summon all my acting ability to remain as childlike and apparently clueless as Donnie in The Big Lebowski as possible. I clearly cannot engage this peace officer with any logic remotely reminiscent of Twain, Mencken or Hunter S. Thompson. I’m guessing they were Goddamn Communists, too. Or worse, too subtle for this reptilian brain sporting a badge before me, packing a gun to “protect and serve”.  American Idol.
I somehow gently extricate myself enough that a “best wishes brother officer” appears to satisfy our friendly neighborhood LAPD Trump voter.
Hours later I’m in a bar on Hollywood Blvd for a writers meeting for The Hollywood and Highland Players.  Sans costumes, I’ve got my laptop out, because we are writing our sketches for next week.  The humanity!  Some dude and his LADY! plop down at the bar near me.  His vibe:  he’s cooler than the thieves who took a joy ride down Hollywood Boulevard doing donuts on their way to selfies with the homies in South LA before their inevitable if disappointingly less than dramatic arrest by LA Sheriffs.
Myles Cohen Edit
Instantly this guy is in my face. “What’s with the laptop? You doing your homework? Why don’t you do that on your own time?!” I ignore him until he starts leaning into my personal space with his phone and puts his arm on my bag. I look him eye to eye and ask him what the problem is. He backs off for a minute, then returns to his alleged roasting, which includes such witty barbs as “Captain America”.  (I was wearing a black sweater.  My ball cap was blue not red.  It said “SF”, not “Make America Great Again”.)  My fellow writers and I ultimately move to the other side of the restaurant. We were there to write sketches, not re-enact West Side Story over hot wings. Apparently people writing scripts in Hollywood is suspect. But then again, American Idol had just sung its alleged swan song. And my plea earlier on Periscope for #DropRealityDonut to become a thing?  Not yet a thing.
That was my yesterday.  A Thursday.  In Hollywood.  A town rampant with bullies.  Some wear badges and vote for Trump.  Some go on a joy ride to score a reality show contract and Ford Mustang endorsement deal.  Some impress the girl they’ll later domestically abuse by trying to pick a fight in a bar.  Some follow in the footsteps of Dick Clark by exploiting artists and bringing us the Kardashians.  Some feel they need to redeem their sins as popularized in The Big Short, even if only as a former lackluster and unenthusiastic loan officer.  This is why I’m a working artist father who wears short shorts and rainbow tactical leg-warmers.  While asking passing tourists “Is it because Jesus wore shower slippers too?”

Oscars So Nice: Reflections of a Busker


 

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Oscar has left the building.  My neighborhood returns to relative Hollywood & Highland normal.  Before I head back out in the Vegas 90210 short shorts to protect Hollywood Boulevard from democracy and Jimmy Kimmel, I wanted to kinda sorta quickly share a few thoughts about last night’s notable Oscar’s ceremony.

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Keeping it real with LAPD brother law enforcers (one of whom appeared to be the last of the male Ghostbusters) at an undisclosed location in the vicinity of the Dolby Theater.

Bear in mind, I didn’t watch the whole ceremony in a pristine private screening room devoid of distraction.  I watched in a bar.  Because it was Sunday and that’s how Jesus would screen it.  As Chris Rock commenced the 88th Academy Awards, I manfully strode in my short shorts down a Hollywood Boulevard congested with star-struck tourists eager to catch a glimpse of what Joan Rivers is no longer here to assess.  (I took up some slack – “What Are Those” VIDEO).  Late I was, en route to my viewing party at Tinhorn Flats as Lt. Frank FFIREHS of Vegas 90210, taking photos with tourists from around the world delighted to behold the theatrical menagerie of nearly every iteration of law enforcement, from security guard to Secret Service … and yours truly in rainbow tactical leg warmers.  As frequently happens in my daily life, they wanted pictures with “Lt. Dangle”.  (Even though the real Lt. Dangle clearly distinguished me as … well, you’ll see shortly.)

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Mark Roman of Vegas 90210, snubbed by the Academy invite list, as seen in the The Hollywood Reporter Oscars Edition.

Because I’m that guy.  The one Thomas Lennon (aka “Lt. Dangle” of Reno 911!) calmly calls “bigger”.  The one with whom Nick Swardson (aka “Terry” of Reno 911!“) recently spread the news of sweat pants and Super Bowl Champion Minnesota Vikings glory.  The one Thomas Lennon (aka Felix #5 opposite the non-Academy Oscar of The Odd Couple on CBS) screams “MARK!!!” while doing a Wassup Drive-By on Hollywood Boulevard the other week.  As seen in The Hollywood Reporter.  That guy.  The smelly background actor busker guy who never had the decency to study at UCLA or USC film schools, frequent Julliard, or embellish the Bard with the likes of Sir Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren or Tom Hardy at The Globe (as directed by Shakespeare understudy Ben Affleck).

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We’re not gay and we make absolutely no case for it.  With Greg Proops (the Buddy Holly impersonator from Whose Line Is It Anyways?), after his live recording of The Smartest Man In The World podcast at the Bar Lubitch in West Hollywood.

With all due respect to Greg Proops (whose sober assessment of the vital impact of awards shows led him to retreat to San Jose for a vodcast), here’s a few quick thoughts and reflections, inadequately informed and hastily assembled, but without the Brian Williams compensation.

CHRIS ROCK EFFORTLESSLY ROUNDS THE BASES

VIDEO. Nuanced jazz, Chris Rock fired word picture bullets I expect to ricochet across the fruited plain.  Whatever seemed to to others to fall flat actually revealed and highlighted the very points Chris was making about race in America and what’s left to do for Hollywood to get better.  Too funny.  He killed.  As only a master comedian at the top of his game can.  Something I’m clearly not, as my freshman forays into the realm of Periscope (Mark Roman, Vegas 90210 – my handle) reveal.

LADY GAGA TAMES THE NOT SO ESCHEWED BARBARIANS

VIDEO.  When one earns their living in short shorts and rainbow tactical leg warmers, it is a rare opportunity to experience a tiny taste of what women (and some men) struggle with daily: unwelcome advances, sexist taunts and hate speech … to outright criminal assault and rape.  I notice in my daily conversations with other men that most guys are criminally clueless as to what most women have to endure daily.  With “Til It Happens to You” Lady Gaga demonstrated beautifully how art can heal, inform and inspire.  We only hope more men begin to grasp the message.  Men like the several passing strangers (unfit to be labeled “gentlemen”) last night making rude remarks about what they’d like to do with body parts of the elegantly dressed ladies in my Oscars after parties group.  The struggle is pervasive, relentless and real.  Gentlemen, we need rise above our primal urges.  Or withdraw from civilization.

REAL VEEP BIDEN CALLS FOR ACTION

Speaking of which, none other than the Vice President clearly stated HOW.  Not fictional VP Selina Meyer played by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (behind whom you might notice yours truly in an upcoming episode) on HBO’s Veep.  ACTUAL Vice President Joe Biden.  A pledge is one thing.  Taking decisive action when the occasion requires is what saves lives.  It is how we all can Heroteer.

THE BIG SHORT

VIDEO.  I’m in it.  In one of the Vegas conventions scenes I’m the featured suit on the down escalator.  Unlike Brad Pitt with all his Hamletesque dialogue, not letting Christian Bale, Steve Carrell or Ryan Gosling get a word in edgewise, I perform.  Without. Saying. A word.  Where’s my Oscar?  I’m also a recovering mortgage broker.  Unlike the dangerously accurate portrayal of mortgage broker douche bags in the film, I charged reasonable fees and become a mostly referral only business.  (I think there’s even a nice review somewhere on Yelp from a previous client.)  I didn’t make nearly as much money as some. But I made enough to be able to see and support my son on a regular basis (unlike the last several years).  And I was never really into it.  (Banking or sales or anything that makes the film Office Space so painfully funny.  And accurate.)  So when the events portrayed in the film unfolded (I remember vividly the day New Century expired), my new found poverty liberated me from sales and enabled me to pursue my passion.  Quite a full circle: to act in an Oscar-winning film that portrays the very industry I escaped … to become a performing artist.

CROWN PRINCE OF HOLLYWOOD:  LEONARDO DICAPRIO

VIDEO.  He’s earned the title.  Well played, sir.  Respect.

 

SPOTLIGHT AND A SPECTATOR

VIDEO.  Quite a compelling film.  It reminded me of All the President’s Men.  I’m a former student editor.  When I refused to stop publishing my independent newspaper I was expelled from college, defamed and put on the FBI’s Subversives List.  I’m also technically Catholic, practicing agnostic and recovering from the child abuse of religion (see “Son of Elmer Gantry’s Bitch“).  So this film resonated with me in ways several and powerful. And let’s not forget that Morgan Freeman not only announced the Best Picture winner, he offered this calm assessment of #OscarsSoWhite.

IN CONCLUSION

I’m so happy to be back in LA (since November), living in Hollywood, pursuing my craft.  The experiences my career continue to afford me only reaffirm that I’m in the right place doing the right things at the right time.  I may never be more famous than “limited-purpose public figure” per that federal judge in the Hillsdale College defamation suit debacle.  I may never be wealthy.  I may never again return to the income the State of Washington child support bureaucrats imagine I still have from a former industry of mine that no longer exists the way it did (as portrayed in a film that only just won an Oscar and was nominated for Best Picture).  I may not be able to do much for my son these days.  He may feel quite like the daughter of Bryan Cranston’s Trumbo in that clip during the Oscars.  And only for many good reasons.  But I can pursue my passion.  I CAN give my son that.  The example.

 

Beasts of Catharsis


The two stories that jump out at me this morning fit the binary math of broadcast news: rubberneck and feel good.

  1. Teenager Stabs Himself to Death on Stage

Fellow humans have taught me I’m supposed to experience “catharsis”, the Greek word meaning, as my high school Shakespeare teacher Mr. Duda taught me, “glad that ain’t me”.  I should judge this teenager for being selfish.  It wasn’t about him.  The people he “left behind” are more important.  Look at all they did for him … before he took his life.  Our “world class” health care system did its part.  He probably didn’t even pay his bill, so serves him right.  Why was he an artist?  It was just an open mic.  Looks like the music career he “tried” didn’t work out.  Why didn’t he go get a “good job”?  You know, as a salesperson or a lawyer.  Or a doctor.

2. UCLA Signs 9-Year Old Battling Brain Tumor

What do you mean hospitals like UCLA and USC follow a policy of patient dumping at Hollywood Bowl (after they got caught dumping downtown)?  My alma mater would NEVER do something like that!  Look, UCLA just signed a cancer kid!  What concussion?  Sports heals!  Especially if I get my spread this weekend!  What are you gonna tell me next, that my church rapes children?  That the electronics I’m using this very moment are built from raw materials stolen by child soldiers?  That our entire banking system is built on lies, fraud and crime?  Why can’t I just enjoy my $5 morning coffee and pretend everyone who feels the sun like I do now hasn’t a care in the world?  Why is that so wrong?

Son of Elmer Gantry’s Bitch


[FIND the better formatted version with crucial links HERE]

(This is an essay that become the current poem, but feels like it wants to be lyrics to a song.  I have more work to do…)

 

Why do I struggle in this culture so coarse?  

Why don’t I pursue profit without remorse?

Why do I want to heal, write and sing?  

And feel guilty every time I permit that fling?

 

See scrolls, screens and stages speak to me indeed.  

So many died, some lived, that I might listen, watch and read.  

But why did Mommy transmit that curious reading itch?

Why me? Kimmy Schmidt? Son of Elmer Gantry’s bitch?

 

Is it because I grew up Kimmy Schmidt, not boy but man?

Inside the body of that Eagle Scout son of Willy Loman?

The not yet dead salesman of creeds and policies.

Always at the Goddamn fucking knee of Elmer Gantries.

 

Is it because I’m still technically Catholic, brother?  

Chained to a Pope enrages a father. But satisfies a mother.

A mother after whom my nurtured fears did once lust.  

A second awkward marriage averted. Back to dust.

 

See scrolls, screens and stages speak to me indeed.  

So many died, some lived, that I might listen, watch and read.  

But why did Mommy transmit that curious reading itch?

Why me? Kimmy Schmidt? Son of Elmer Gantry’s bitch?

 

The student paper I wrote & published, why could I not let it go?  

That right wing Ken Doll pub crawl college boss sure hoped so!  

See he had a lot of agape to give.  If the smoking gun found sun.

Understand they wouldn’t. Especially his lady’s groom. His son.

 

Everyone wonders why that abundant happy salesman not in my bones.  

Something completely different than Dad’s insurance.  Like mortgage loans?

Harness my wit and charms to sell whatever’s not yet criminal in this port!

Grab my “fair share” and do it before the next Great Depression or Big Short!  

 

See scrolls, screens and stages speak to me indeed.  

So many died, some lived, that I might listen, watch and read.  

But why did Mommy transmit that curious reading itch?

Why me? Kimmy Schmidt? Son of Elmer Gantry’s bitch?

 

To love what you’re supposed to do is just a decision away.  

For those not burdened with too many questions to parlay.

Produce for the consumers. Why not Abide? Like The Dude?

Why so fucking depressed and homeless you silly white dude?

 

When the vultures steal and enslave, why don’t I in kind retaliate?

Their tactics are worldly and wise, why should I not embrace?

And so to my ground zero arrive the charity of career counselors

What the Goddamn fuck happened to all the emergency responders?

 

See scrolls, screens and stages speak to me indeed.  

So many died, some lived, that I might listen, watch and read.  

But why did Mommy transmit that curious reading itch?

Why me? Kimmy Schmidt? Son of Elmer Gantry’s bitch?

 

Doctors without board certified want to medicate my personality away.  

Soma.  For the masses.  If the theatre of Mass is not enough to assuage.  

The good citizens annoyed at the disease of my eyes that see.  

Why so stubborn?  Why not “get over it” and assimilate like we?

 

Why is merely being me an act of open revolution against the established fable?  

Why does imminent homelessness bring suicidal thoughts to the food stamp table?  

Mommy gave me religion.  And taught me to read.  Dark & Light, The Force indeed.

 

See scrolls, screens and stages speak to me indeed.  

So many died, some lived, that I might listen, watch and read.  

But why did Mommy transmit that curious reading itch?

Why me? Kimmy Schmidt? Son of Elmer Gantry’s bitch?

 

© 2016 Mark Roman aka Mark Nehls

Hollywood Storage Lost, Narcotic of My Audience Gained


Hollywood Sign

My stuff in storage in Hollywood will be auctioned Tuesday. Just like an episode of Storage Wars my ex-girlfriend loved so much. (You know, the rocket scientist who read less than me and referred to me as “AMW- Actor, Model, Whatever”.) If you’ll be in Los Angeles, let me know for the location. Enjoy. You’re welcome. Contents include:
* pictures of my son Connor, and some of his stuff for those days he spent with me
* Placer High Class of 1989 yearbook with several personal messages written to the “Most Likely to Succeed” honor roll student who entertained by turning every class into a political convention
* clothing I used for many IMDb acting credits earned while in LA
* Most issues of The Hillsdale Spectator (plus related documents), an indy student newspaper I founded in college, resulting in my expulsion and addition to the FBI’s Subversive List. Invaluable source material for a film I’d hoped to produce someday. None of it is scanned.
* Papers, essays and articles I wrote since childhood. None of it is scanned.
* My Eagle Scout Award set
* Financial and legal documents that will be asked of me when I can afford to hire attorneys again someday. Little of it is scanned.
* some random furniture, accessories, books and other crap easily replaced with money
* other stuff I can’t remember and couldn’t fit in a suitcase two years ago

I’m trying to approach a peace at losing all this. They are like totems of experiences meaningful to very few people. Why keep pictures of a son who’d likely find them embarrassing, a son I don’t even get to see? Why remind myself of a childhood filled with the trauma of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt level religious abuse? Why remind myself of all the painful toxic adult relationships I continue to attract as I desperately flail about, coping with traumas I can barely identify, traumas others easily dismiss? It will be a while before I can be in Los Angeles again to work, so why have much more wardrobe than my Vegas 90210 costume? No one cares what I did for free expression at Hillsdale College, because people want me to volunteer and donate to their cause. The ACLU and others need me, but my expression never seems to qualify for their help. My earlier writing was politically horrifying and lacked imagination or humor, so why keep it around? My Eagle Scout badge represents an organization of archaic colonialism, xenophobia and homophobia. As a celibate in a costume who gets to be called “fa@@ot” nearly daily now, why should I hold onto anything from the Boy Scouts of America? I haven’t been able to afford a decent family law, bankruptcy, entertainment or business attorney since 2007, so why prepare for a dim future possibility? Going to jail for being the working poor is perhaps less painful than protracted legal battles. Tuesday will simply be another “bad day”. Everyone has those! I’m being selfish dwelling on the matter.

I realize I haven’t done enough. I should talk to my family, because everyone has a perfect Asian, Italian or Latin family that looks out for each other. I should pray, because it technically is not book-burning. I should be grateful others pray for me, because when they pray to their specific angry man in the sky who will not be mocked, it is more legitimate than my cruelly sarcastic suggestion that people pray to one of the twelve Lords of Kobol. I should “get a job”, because laundering money for HSBC or committing wage theft as a “jobs creator” or preying on and discriminating against the different and vulnerable is more legitimate than accepting tips like a bartender who sets his own schedule around delivering laughter (not alcoholics and drunk drivers). I realize what I’ve done with so little since 2007 is not any sign of success. Being a working artist, being one of the working poor in America, it is a criminal act that cannot be tolerated. That is what most people and authorities in my life have taught me. By their actions. This is how you arrest art. This is how you deepen depression. This is how you subtlety suggest suicide among those not American enough to heal their pain with theft or physical violence against others.

Fuck it. I’ll just go make people laugh. That is the only way people can take my truths. I communicate my pain from your world through a silly character wearing an outrageous outfit. Because I can. Because no one else can. The way I do. Because I somehow capture the laughter and curiosity of humans from the common global tourist to Twitter Verifieds. Because that is literally how I stay alive. As Marlon Brando would say, by lying for a living. That and Robin Williams haunting me like Hamlet’s father. People listen best to dead poets. But can I say a cheery Ronald Reagan good morning to my Vietnam just one more day? Robin seems to keep asking me that, anxiously pacing a stage in an empty theater. He misses the narcotic of his audience. There’s more work to be done. Throughout the ages, we never seem to catch the conscience of the king, but maybe one day we might. Robin desperately wants to. But he can’t now.

Some people become alcoholics. Some people become addicts. Some people physically abuse others. Some people create no income and steal from others. I earn money making people laugh. I share my pain through writing and comedy and wearing short shorts and rainbow tactical leg-warmers without a net or a bouncer. My vacation is busking for a living between the occasional SAG-AFTRA gigs in Las Vegas. The violence of American family and tenant law I just take. Like a man. There’s no 12 Step or “help” for people like me. My headshot doesn’t match my struggle. Society cast me as a middle class sales douche bag. Why the hell do I insist on being a working artist beneath the poverty line? I get it. I’m the asshole. But not the kind of asshole that gets to sit with us. Make us laugh clown. We’re not your friends. We are consumers. We only like you when we get to consume you