• As Broadway Goes, So Goes The Country April 17, 2023 by J-L Cauvin

    I believe it was Dostoyevsky who once wrote, “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering a theater and seeing how many cell phones go off during a performance.”  As a culture critic for the people, I attend a decent number of Broadway performances each year. Now, I am a practical man and realize that against my best hopes, and the heroic efforts of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain, cell phone usage during movies is a lost cause.  Even a movie militant as strident as me has fallen back to a position of “Can you at least dim your screen if you are going to text for 1/3 of the movie???”  But Broadway, where the culture is snootier and the tickets more expensive? Surely it can stand athwart rudeness yelling Stop, right?  Well, don’t expect the man in flip flops and shorts sitting behind you in the August Wilson Theater to give you the response you desire.

    The last Broadway show I saw was last week. It was a play called The Thanksgiving Play. It was solid and it stood out to me for one particular reason. No, it was not because it made me see Janet from The Good Place as a sexy Amazonian, though it did. It stood out because it was the first play I can remember seeing in the last decade where I did not hear one cell phone go off.  Perhaps it was because there were two people like this, standing in the theater reminding patrons of something important:

    Silver lining: the rude people at theaters are now creating jobs for people!

    Now, while I appreciate the theater doing what it takes, is this where we are?  Entering a theater, having a warning stated over the PA system and have a request in the playbill are not all sufficient enough to get people to turn off their phones?  Apparently not.

    A week earlier I went to Funny Girl, which was a great show.  Tickets were extremely expensive and as befits a man of my stature, the couple sitting in front of me was a Property Brother (I do not know which one) and Zoe Deschanel.  What warmed my heart was to see Pro-Zo (my celeb name for them) sitting cuddly, clapping for musical numbers and saying less than 10 words the entire show. The same could not be said for the man sitting behind me who never stopped providing answers to rhetorical questions posed by the actors and articulating things like “that was funny” when laughter would have sufficed.  This kind of verbal tagging is awful at comedy clubs where ticket are $20 a pop. It is unforgiveable in a theater where the seats were $250 each.  And while I was admiring Pro-Zo’s respectful conduct, a phone went off in the second half of the show on the other side of the theater. But I was not surprised, as a young woman had shoved me out of the way at intermission to make sure she was 48th instead of 66th on the line for the women’s bathroom.

    One half of “Pro-Zo” sitting in front of me at Funny Girl

    I am old fashioned in that I like spaces that occasionally remind us that humans can be classy.  I don’t wear sneakers to the theater. I generally dress business casual and if I wasn’t an overweight slob I would probably put on a suit (no tie).  But cell phone culture, which has invaded just about every facet of public life, extends to the “I’ll wear what I want” vibe.  The email I received from the Funny Girl theater a day before the show included admonitions about cell phone use, but also a gentle suggestion that “some people choose to dress nicely for the theater… it is not required, but…”  But if you have been to the theater (saying nothing of the sad fact that the only way to sell tickets is generally celebrity casting or adapting a pre-existing, popular property – Marvel The Musical can only be a few years away) it really is anything goes.

    My friend Nick is a magician in LA and he works at the prestigious Comedy & Magic Castle.  They have a dress code. Nick has told me that often men will cite the price of their jeans or sneakers or t-shirt as reasons why the do not need to wear a jacket.  The answer is that there is a dress code.  I think one reason the CMC is a popular hot spot is specifically because it is mandating a level of old school class.  From Bar Mitzvahs to proms to weddings to funerals there is something in a lot of us that love the formality of certain occasions. Perhaps we have been conditioned to it or perhaps we just don’t want to see someone’s hairy knee when look at our theater arm rest, but whatever the reason, I think it is nice to have some spaces that we treat as sanctified, even if only in a secular way.

    I think the worst recent example I’ve experienced at the theater was at How I Learned to Drive, which I saw last year. The show is about grooming and sexual abuse and one of the actors came out before the show began and told the audience that the play was serious and they wanted everyone to turn off their phones.  Phones went off three times during the show.  “And that’s when my uncle put his hands under my – RING RING.”  This is probably how Catholics more hard core than me are drawn to Opus Dei when they see someone in flip flops and shorts playing an acoustic guitar at Mass.

    Obviously our culture has undergone seismic shifts in the last generation or two. Decreasing reverence for and practice of religion, increased usage of cell phones and a decrease in what is considered discourteous or rude, etc.  And I am not connecting the two so do not take this as some religious screed (though replacing reverence for a “higher power” with “I’m an influencer” does feel like it could have bad repercussions in some cases).  But when I am at a movie and a dozen phone screens are lit up or on a bus and 3 different people are blaring videos or music from their phones without headphones it makes one wonder, are there any spaces where people still collectivity act in a courteous manner?  The theater feels like it would be one of those places, but perhaps I need to get into opera or ballet if I want a more reverent environment (or perhaps that is lost as well as I don’t go to either).

    I’d like this to end with a “so let’s be better!” hopeful tone, but the last decade plus has just shown me that we have not reached bottom yet.  This weekend The Phantom of the Opera, Broadway’s longest running show ever, closed.  I never got to see it and amidst the celebrities, including Andrew Lloyd Webber, at the final show on Sunday, I was just left to wonder from a supermarket check out line: who was the final cell phone to go off during the show?

  • Kid Rock IS The Republican Party April 12, 2023 by J-L Cauvin

    This week’s blog was supposed to be about the erosion of etiquette at the theatre and how that spells so much more doom for society.  That can wait until next week.  This week, due to both inspiration and time crunch, I will be writing about the man that I think best embodies the Republican Party more than any human alive.  That man is Robert James Ritchie, AKA Kid Rock (there will be no pictures of Kid Rock due to me being scared off of using copyright-protected photos – podcast listeners know to what I refer – so pictures of my dog Cookie, who is dirty blonde and was found abandoned in a Kentucky trailer park, will have to act as stand-ins – the pic to the left is Cookie with her Donald Trump chew toy).

    Now full disclosure – I am not one of these people who just reflexively dismisses Kid Rock like a progressive hack.  I own several of his albums and to this day will defend his breakout album, Devil without a Cause, as a great album (and Rolling Stone picked him as their 1999 male artist of the year for that album).  But given multiple decades to absorb the man’s place in our culture, mostly against my will, I have come to see him as much more than a top tier artist of the 90s-2000s rap-rock hybrid era (Linkin Park as the best and most unscathed member of this genre).  I now see him as the embodiment of the modern GOP.

    “American Badass”

    One hallmark of Kid Rock’s persona is a brash, flag waving patriotism that would come across as sacrilegious to anyone with a brain.  Rock’s patriotism is the “How dare Colin Kaepernick kneel for the anthem – now watch two strippers twerk while I throw up middle fingers with the American flag in the background because AMERICA!”  Like the thousands of mostly white dudes across American sports arenas who scream, shout and stuff hot dogs down their throats as the anthem plays, but will condemn anyone who doesn’t show proper respect (especially if they look different than them), Rock is the ultimate do as I say and not as I do patriot.

    “Black Chick, White Guy”

    Taylor Swift used country music as her path of least resistance in the musical world and then slowly, but surely, turned herself into a pop music megastar (I, for one, appreciate her honesty in making the full transition to pop, versus a lot of what passes as country music today, pop music with a little twang and a lot of fear of leaving the warm bosom of country music). Rock took a more conventional American path to music stardom – he immersed himself in Black art, rap to be specific, but like a stand up comedian failing to generate likes, he retreated into aggressive whiteness after his career regressed to the mean, after initial success (a song about an interracial relationship where he drops the N word might have been a harbinger of things to come – though artistically defensible when you hear the song, it becomes even more uncomfortable when the man becomes a Trump supporter who says things like “Fu*k Oprah” (disliking or disagreeing with Oprah is obviously not a crime or racist, but it certainly doesn’t look or sound great when factoring the totality of the Kid Rock circumstances)).  But the point of this is using Black art/culture/proximity as a shield, but then denigrating Black people and supporting racist politicians when not appearing racist is no longer useful, is very GOP.

    “I’m a Cowboy Baby!”

    (Don’t even try to tell me this is not a good song)  From what I have read Kid Rock grew up a well off suburban kid and has grown into a very rich adult.  But his image is clearly as a man of the trailer park-oxy abusing people!  From the stringy hair, the ratty mustache and the fur coat-wife beater couture, he is clearly cultivating an unemployed-just won a scratch off-working man-without a real job persona.  And is there anything more Republican than pretending to be one of the people?  From Reagan’s actor-politician who hates Hollywood and Washington, DC to George W. Bush’s Connecticut Cowboy to Donald Trump’s deep contempt for his own voters, but willingness to be their “retribution,” the modern GOP is one big cosplay act.  Only H.W. Bush seemed to be true to the fancy pants that he was in real life and he got voted out after one term.

    “Only God Knows Why”

    This song is a damn masterpiece. I know it is, because a friend of mine in college, who hated Kid Rock, was deeply distressed when he found out the song he liked was, in fact, a very off brand, auto-tuned ballad by Kid Rock.

    If ever there could be an anthem for the modern, Trump GOP, I think it would be Only God Knows Why.  The lyrics that most reflect this are as follows:

    I said it too many times and I still stand firmYou get what you put inAnd people get what they deserve
    Still I ain’t seen mineNo, I ain’t seen mineI’ve been givin’, just ain’t been gettin’I’ve been walkin’ that there line
    So I think I’ll keep a walkin’With my head held highI’ll keep movin’ onAnd only God knows why
    The inherent contradiction in these lines, though poetically frustrating, are also the perfect embodiment of the modern GOP’s hypocrisy.  I believe with all my heart that hard work and personal responsibility pay off, BUT IT IS  NOT WORKING FOR ME!  Well which is it?  Is it personal responsibility for everyone, or is it others who are not working hard, but for folks like Kid Rock, it is actually an unjust tragedy that his hard work is not paying off?  If not for his politics and generally offensive nature, I would say the song is a laudable lament of a world that seems to contradict the values it espouses.  But knowing now who Kid Rock is, it sounds more like hypocritical bitching and is there any better way to describe the modern GOP than hypocritical bitches?
  • John Wick? More like John WOKE March 23, 2023 by J-L Cauvin

    When I heard that a new installment of the John Wick film franchise was coming out I was excited.  Wick represented a throwback ideal of a man – husband (albeit he left his job to please his wife – no one is perfect), feared by criminals and impeccably dressed (sorry, no sweat pants for your stay at home zoom “job”). He killed with ruthless efficiency and set a high standard for justice: kill my puppy and I will kill everyone.  Needless to say John Wick was not taking time out to go protest the 2nd Amendment with David Hogg!

    So last week I lined up all three Wick films for a great retrospective before the 4th chapter’s release this week (in Joe Biden’s world of gun control, paternity leave and pronouns – it felt like nothing was more needed than the Wick movies).  But as I rewatched the films I realized that the John Wick films were actually a progressive trojan horse.  John Wick was actually John WOKE.

    In the first film, Wick attacks exclusively white criminals (they appear to be Russian, so I guess double points on the globalist, woke scorecard).  Of course he is friends with a few people in the criminal world – Latino Mike Birbiglia John Leguizamo and the late Lance Reddick, the concierge of the assassin hotel.  He did have a white friend, played by Willem Dafoe, but the John Woke screenwriters obviously saw fit to have him killed.  Wick eventually avenges his deceased puppy leaving a lot of dead white people.

    But I did enjoy the first one and since I am the last person to engage in cancel culture, perhaps this was just one plot line.  But as I re-watched John Wick 2 I saw a clearer pattern emerging.  Wick is forced to repay a debt to an Italian criminal (so apparently honoring a contract is a bad thing when a white man asks you to do so!) and in attempting to do so is attacked by a Black criminal… who Wick allows to live.  The actor’s name may be Common, but needless to say, this was a very uncommon fate for killers who cross John Wick.  When Wick needs assistance in the film he gets it from a homeless Black man, played by Lawrence Fishbourne. So instead of perhaps cleaning up the homelessness problem in Democrat run NYC, Wick empowers this man to wreak more havoc on a once great city.

    Well then we get to John Wick 3: Parabellum, which might as swell mean “all out war against traditional values.”  Wick is now being hunted by all assassins because he violated the terms of service at the Continental.  There white people go again – wanting contracts to be honored. For a contract killer, John Woke seems to have a major problem with… contracts.  In John Wick 3, Wick makes it to northern Africa where he of course will finally have to kill some killers of color.  But he is aided in that pursuit by Halle Berry, a Black woman, who, in the Leftist hierarchy is the most discriminated against person so, by the John Woke transitive property, is entitled to kill men of color, as they are part of the patriarchy. So John Woke gets a pass via Halle Berry and comes back to America to fight a gang of Asian assassins.

    In other words, John Woke is now able to murder lots of minorities, as long as they are over-represented minorities.  And boy does Wick go off!  He takes out so many Asians I thought he was Bill DeBlasio trying to stop them from getting into selective high schools!  And orchestrating a lot of the enemies against John Woke was a non-binary actor, known primarily for their work on Billions, a show I know something about.  Does the non-binary actor get murdered by John Wick?  Of course not – John Wick may have killed 1000 assassins, but if you have a plural pronoun you are off limits.  And when it is time to finally defeat the evil Italian gangster, Wick is given aid by the aforementioned Reddick, who needless to say survives the gun battle.  Do you see it yet?

    So as I reflected on this deceptive legacy that the Wick films represent, I have opted to skip John Wick 4.  I can actually appreciate films like Schindler’s List, 12 Years a Slave and Roots who at least when they shove wokeness down your throat, they do it openly. What the John Wick franchise has done is far more devious. They have taken a beta cuck and wrapped him in the blood and garments of an alpha male and sold us the lie with popcorn.  John Woke?  I’d rather take a nap!

  • Road Comedy Recap: New England, Old Problems March 7, 2023 by J-L Cauvin

    This past weekend I made my way to New England for shows in Boston, MA and Fairfield, CT.  The gigs featured trademarks of J-L Cauvin comedy shows: A+ material, small crowds, meager profits and travel discomfort.  I cannot think of any other witty things to put in this intro so let’s just get into it!


    I made my way to Boston on the Acela, the northeast Amtrak line that gets you to Boston 20 minutes faster for only $8000 more. Unfortunately and unexpectedly, the seats on the Acela were uncomfortable for me due to my never-ending recovery from shoulder surgeries. The only comfort I had for most of the trip was the knowledge that I was not traveling with the poors.  But then I noticed the man sitting adjacent from me was watching season six of Billions.  As you should know, if you are reading my blog, which you are if you are reading this, I was in episode 5 of season 6 of Billions and I realized that this man was on episode 3 of the season.  With 3 hours until Boston I realized he would get into my episode if he continued watching.  Well, after taking a break in the snack car, I returned to my seat to see him in episode 5.  I got out my phone (what is a better photo than taking a picture of someone watching your show while you sit behind them?) and was prepared to tap him on the shoulder when I appeared on screen and say, “THAT’S ME!” in the worst Make-A-Wish ever.  And then, with less than 5 minutes before my first scene, he closed his tablet because he was getting off at the Rt 128 stop, a stop about 20 minutes before downtown Boston.  Classic J-L Jinx.

    The man on the train missed out on this and other moments!

    Before going to City Winery I checked into the hotel, the Boston Wharf Hotel.  My friend and opener for the night, Joe Pontillo was arriving later, but given the weather I changed my hotel from a (Tall) King bed to a Yassss Two Queen beds room. When he arrived I learned the first of many sad truths about the Boston Wharf Hotel, a hotel that looked like a million bucks and delivered 5 dollar service.  $50 parking for the night!? I asked if that came with a hooker/sex worker/vaginal entrepreneur and they said no.

    Joe and I made it to the venue around 6:15 and with no one helping us get the car into the parking lot I made my way into the venue and asked for help. They told me I could go to the parking lot and buzz him in.  I went into the parking lot and no one answered the buzzer. Then some turd kicked the door stop, which left me in a cold parking lot unable to get Joe’s car into the lot and unable to get back into the venue. It felt like I was rebooting Spinal Tap into a depressing 10 minute drama.  Nothing makes you feel like a headliner than being your own, inept parking attendant.  But then, in a Shining like experience, an older Black man opened the door and let me back in (he must have sensed my despair). Once someone let Joe in we both ate some delicious pre-show salmon (my reminder that it was a Friday during Lent guilted Joe into ordering the same) and took some photos in the room posing as our green room.  Then Jocelyn, our great handler (she was guiding the ship on my last trip to Boston as well) said they wanted to delay the start of the show because a lot of ticket purchasers had not yet showed up.  Some little inside industry info – when a show has to start late because of lack of audience, that is not a great thing.  But then a bunch of people actually started filing in and I felt temporary relief.

    Chairman of the City Winery Board

    The show went really well (for the unvarnished truth listen to this week’s Righteous Pk Podcast) and I met several people who had come to the show just looking for comedy and thought I was great (in my years long struggle to woo comedy fans and not just bored people who like impressions, gaining people who only know me for stand up is a Godsend).  After the show Joe, my college friend Duane and I went to a nice Italian restaurant for some drinks and bites and then left to go back to the hotel.  And like a movie that you think is about to end, but then goes on for an hour more, the Boston Wharf Hotel front desk and valet now had their time to shine.  I don’t want to bore you with the details, but at 1115 pm at a luxury looking hotel, with no other customers at the front desk and no other cars seeking valet service, 40 minutes is a long time to have to wait.

    In the morning, Joe and I made our way home with a stop in a Connecticut IHOP for a breakfast where Joe marveled at the speed with which I inhale 5 pancakes, 4 sausage links (insert Mike Pence running gif here) and a partridge and a pear tree.


    After a restful Saturday it was time to perform in Fairfield. Having not seen my Mom in a few weeks I met my Mom in midtown before catching a Metro North to Fairfield.  We went to Shake Shack, at which point she handed me a stack of money to take a cab home to NJ… from Fairfield. “There’s a lot of shit going on in the subways,” my Mom told me at which point, her 6’7″ son with money and anger issues channeled Walter White said, “On the subway, I am the shit!” Like so many of the people hearing my jokes, my Mom did not get the reference.  After Shake Shack I made my way to a packed train (I wish John Wick existed and the only people he went after were people who put their feet on train seats and people who listen to music and videos on their phones in public spaces without headphones). We arrived at the station at 7pm and it was literally 50 steps from the theater.

    The small theater was great and the theater said they could tape our sets on their brand new, state of the art video system.  I had brought my camera, but when I saw their set up I said I definitely wanted them to video tape on their system.  We had 25 audience members, but at least half of them appeared to be actual fans or friends of mine (thank you!) and my pay was not contingent on ticket sales, so no pressure!  I ended up having an outstanding set with all new material for my next hour and a lot of good ad libs.  And just to be safe, 15 minutes before my set I went to the video guy and confirmed that he was recording the sets.  You know where this is going…

    On the train back at 1015 pm (a 90 minute train ride sitting next to a mother-daughter combo listening to loud music on one phone for the entire ride – teaching the next generation to be inconsiderate assholes warms the heart) I got a text from the show producer saying, “You are really jinxed – the theater forgot to turn on the video recording system). At this point I spiritually gave up on my comedy career.  It is not the big things that break you folks – I am still performing and keeping up hope for my special(s), despite 501 days and counting of abject despair. But when pressing record proves too big a lift for a show? – that is the stuff that breaks me.  I eventually made it home (only had to take a cab home from Newark, so “unnecessary cash from Mom” proves to once again be one of the most profitable sources of money in my stand-up comedy career – $120 profit on cab money from Mom compared to $170 profit on gig in Boston, which was a lower profit margin than my opener Joe).

    Thanks to everyone who came to the shows, but more importantly, thank you to everyone who did not.  In the words of George W. Bush after a different tragedy, “I hear you!”

  • Road Comedy Recap: 39 Hours in Ann Arbor November 14, 2022 by J-L Cauvin

    I have written dozens, maybe hundreds of road comedy recaps from my adventures around the country, basically a multi-decade effort to validate focusing my adult life on the pursuit of a career in stand up comedy.  But this weekend felt like both the apex and nadir of that career and these recaps.  It began on Wednesday with my computer crashing and ended with me walking home smelling like The Walking Dead and getting my first good night of sleep in what feels like a decade (literally).  So let’s get to it!

    Wednesday: What the Fu*k Just Happened to My Computer?!

    I woke up Wednesday and went to my computer to send some emails.  And then my computer froze and crashed.  I had planned on using some of my downtime in Michigan to write some sketches and although pen and paper work, they make it very difficult to conform with screenwriting formatting.  I proceeded to curse, panic sweat and complain about my third PC in 3 years to crash (must be all my comedy content and the Bible passage browsing I keep doing). I packed the computer and brought it into the Geek Squad near my office in midtown.  I was helped by a young Geek (good rap name right?) named Jose and he was very helpful (like an old person I had made an appointment for the wrong day and had a look of panic in my eyes and Yung Geek (or El Guique?) explained what he thought the problem was and that he could have my computer back to me by lunch on Thursday, either repaired or diagnosed with a hardware issue, which would then be a manufacturer’s warranty issue… which as coincidence would have it was set to expire 4 days later).

    Thursday: Race Through The City and the Train to Ann Arbor

    On Thursday I woke up, packed for Ann Arbor (my triumphant return to the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase club after a three year hiatus) and headed into the city an hour earlier than needed to get my computer from midtown.  When I arrived at Geek Squad I was greeted by a Black woman (Jose was not there) and she seemed perplexed by my expectation that my computer would be ready. I assured her that Jose had told me I could have it back fixed, or at least diagnosed, by right now.  She checked the paperwork and confirmed this and then came out and told me the computer had been repaired (YAY) and they just had to complete the repair paperwork.

    Now, even though I had 90 minutes until my train for Ann Arbor left and was a mere 15 minutes from The Moynihan Train Station I was nervous because I had left all my belongings in a locker in MTS unlocked.  Even though it is a secure and monitored lounge it still crossed my mind that I could go to Ann Abor with the clothes on my back and my computer and nothing else if a theft occurred.

    So as I paced around the Geek Squad area of Best Buy waiting for the Black woman (I wrote a joke in my phone that she might call it Gique S’quad and then deleted it thinking, “don’t be a Black name hack!”). The woman arrived with my computer and said I might get a survey (I just gave both employees high marks) and that Jose helped me on Wednesday and that her name was Ideal (immediately retrieved and updated my text joke) when I filled out the survey.  I thought to myself, when you go to Geek Squad to interview (or any job) and your resume says “Ideal” as your name, isn’t that the easiest hire of all time?

    So I left with my computer and walked to the Times Square Chop’t to get a salad. There is a Chop’t in MTS, but since it is mostly tourists who have never ordered a $19 salad they often take a long time considering their options while people with salad slicing blades stare at them with NYC brand hostility. I got my salad and made it back to the VIP lounge in MTS and ate my salad awaiting the announcement for train 49 to Chicago.  I made my way to my roomette and had a pleasant evening of reading a Jim Thopre biography and watching The Good Fight as the train made its way to Chicago.

    Friday: The Red Roof Inn Plus

    When I woke up at 530 am in my roomette I saw that the train was 35 minutes behind schedule into Toledo (where you transfer to the Amtrak bus that services Michigan cities and towns), which gave me enough time to get breakfast on the train (all meals are included for sleeper car passengers, but when the train is on time to Toledo there is not enough time to get breakfast before arrival). So I got in an extra meal and then got on the bus to Michigan around 7am.  I made it to downtown Ann Arbor at 9, but because check in at my hotel was not until 3pm I secured a seat at the college Starbucks (the most nonstop busiest Starbucks I have ever seen) and proceeded to configure my computer, which had to be wiped clean to reinstall the operating system – which feels like a threat the rapper El Gique/Yung Geek would make on a rap track.

    At 2 pm I made it to the Red Roof Inn Plus. Rather than write all about it, here is a video from one of my sets this weekend for you to enjoy and learn from:


    I also saw Ann Arbor’s fat squirrels and chronicled them for Twitter:

    Friday night we had one show and it went well. I hung out after with a fan/friend named Lacee (her heroics will come later in the weekend) and her co-workers, one of whom looked like a progressive, Italian Lauren Boebert, which if you listen to my podcasts lets you know that I was close to changing my state of residency during my second gin and tonic.

    The view from my hotel: beautiful or apocalyptic?

    I went back to the RRI+ after and got a solid 6 hours sleep, not a small feat considering this is where I was staying:

    Saturday: Highway Shoutout, Old Friends & an Oath Keeper?

    On Saturday morning I woke up and asked the RRI+ for a late check out (just an hour) because I was leaving town on a 3:15 am Amtrak after Saturday’s two shows.  It was granted and then I made my way to the McDonald’s a mile away for breakfast. About 5 minutes into my walk a woman in a car exiting the highway yelled “J-L!”  I turned and saw that it was a friend of my sister-in-law’s who was supposed to attend my Saturday show.  She pulled over (technically it was her son driving, a friend of my younger nephew) and she told me that because of an illness in her family they were driving to Ohio and would have to miss the show.  Like The Nothing in The Neverending Story wherever my comedy goes, bad things seem to happen.  But before we said goodbye she informed me of a greasy spoon right near where we were talking that I should try over McDonald’s. So after she and her son drove away with my well wishes I went to the aforementioned diner and it was delicious.  A+ pancakes. The pancakes were so good I was able to ignore the ten 3 percenters that were sitting right next to me.

    Great pancakes at this Ann Arbor diner

    I will also say, I wish I had gone to law school at Ann Arbor instead of Georgetown. Not only do I really like Ann Arbor (I like DC as well), but as a large human being who carries himself with the arrogance, but also deteriorating body of a former athlete, I felt a lot of looks like “I wonder if he played for the Wolverines.”  And the answer would be yes.

    I went back to the Friday Starbucks to read and review the video from Friday’s show.  I then went to St Thomas the Apostle for 430pm vigil Mass and walked back to the main strip to meet my childhood friend Ian, his wife and two of their friends for pre-show dinner.

    a quick, uneven shot of St Thomas Church – did not want to take a better picture because I thought random guy with a bag taking pictures of soft target would be suspicious

    The first show was excellent and as I learned throughout the weekend, Michigan, so far, seems to have the highest percentage of platinum J-L fans. Owners of multiple albums, listeners to at least one of my podcasts and Patreon subscribers. Several people made long drives to make the show and it felt really good.  One fan owned all 8 of my albums and had seen me for the first time almost a decade ago at a different Michigan club.  If I had 25K Lees I would be the happiest comedian on Earth (that’s a lie, but I’d be happier. I would simply have to find other reasons to maintain my misery).  The first show ended and then the second show had more diehard fans and a guy that I think may have stormed the Capitol.

    The second show started well enough and I was discussing my vaccination status and an older, rugged man kept making comments.  He was not being aggressive and seemed in good cheer so I decided to humor him and simultaneously shut it down. I said “you look like you were at the Capitol on January 6th, but you seem a lot calmer than some of your allies – probably because a lot of them are home alone in their moms’ basements, but you have a good looking woman on your arm (Lesson 1 in the J-L disarm a MAGA comedy audience member – be large, Lesson 2 –  make them feel like they’re doing cancel culture if they boo you and Lesson 3 – appeal to their traditional sense of masculinity).  He seemed pleased and entertained but did not stop talking.  Then, an audience member, who I must imagine did not get a good look at the man, yelled “Read the room man and shut the fu*k up!”  That made it awkward but Quaker Oath Keeper in front seemed to not be offended. The club manager (a kind, young woman, which I think helped de-escalate) said to him that he would have to stop talking or he would be asked to leave.  To his credit the Ann Arbor Shaman remained quiet for the rest of the show, but he and his lady did not seem too pleased (especially during my bits about roasting Barron Trump and having hypothetical, law school sex with Tiffany Trump).  When he left he shook my hand and looked me in the eye and it was a look that said “Once I accepted Christ I renounced violence. Lucky for you.” He had a large neck tattoo, which on a white guy in his 60s is about as strong a warning sign as there is. Like I said, the guy who stood up for me and told him to STFU clearly did not see the man up close.

    Sunday – The Extraction

    After the show I had some great long chats with big time fans and then Lacee met me after the show knowing I needed to kill time before the 3:15 am train.  So we went near the club for a drink and some appetizers and I began the Lyft watch.

    • 12:15am $95 to Toledo Amtrak
    • 12:45am $156 to Toledo Amtrak
    • 1:10 am $221 to Toledo Amtrak
    • 1:40 am (when leaving) $365 to Toledo Amtrak

    So at that point I began to panic and asked Lacee if she could begin driving me toward Toledo (which is at least in the direction of her home) and she did and about 6 minutes out of the downtown area the price was $156 – I immediately selected it and we pulled into a large (closed) shopping center to wait for the Lyft… which never came.  He claimed to be in front of the store, but clearly he wasn’t. Lacee’s guess was that he actually saw the ride was to Toledo and then pulled some BS (as proof my $5 non-pick up penalty was refunded). So at that point the Lyft price had climbed back to $230 to Toledo so Lacee drove me to the Amtrak. At one point with a 20 minute buffer between our GPS arrival and the train departure I said “GPS says that way” and she said “But the highway entrance is right there (pointing to an entrance 50 yards away)” but that would have involved crossing a double yellow line or some by-the-book GPS nonsense so my GPS led us on an 8 minute time killer through local roads to get us back to the highway Lacee had pointed out.

    We arrived at the station in plenty of time (the train would end up delayed 30 minutes anyway) and I thanked Lacee by promising her copious attention and ink in the road recap.  I then got in my roomette and fell asleep on and off for the next 4 hours.  I spent the day reading, watching stuff and finally made it through my door in Bloomfield, NJ at 830pm where I was hugged by my girlfriend despite smelling of a day of Amtrak and licked by Cookie, probably because I smelled like a day of Amtrak.  After a shower I went to bed and had the first uninterrupted 7 hours of sleep I can remember in the last several years.

  • Road Comedy Recap: Heavy Lyfting in Princeton October 31, 2022 by J-L Cauvin

    This weekend I had a pair of gigs in Princeton, NJ at Catch A Rising Star.  It was my first time back to the club in what feels like 10 years (it did not go well when I featured there a decade ago) and fortunately, thanks to a killer Saturday show, I left with my head held high.  But until then it seemed like a potential disaster.  So with that thrilling and misleading intro, let’s break down the most recent road trip!

    Friday: Lyft Tears Me Down

    On Friday I woke up early to get some legal work done (Spike Lee’s documentary about me, J-L Doin’ Work, was scrapped because reviewing documents by the Beige Mamba was deemed “not as interesting” as his Kobe documentary), hit the gym and then made my way to Newark Penn Station for the 6:03pm express train to Princeton, NJ.  I would have taken the train to NPS and saved myself money, but NJ transit is shaped like a V in my area, with Secaucus as the pivot point of the V.  You need to go all the way to Secaucus to get a train that goes along the other part of the V. So you end up going past Newark to get back on a different train line that runs through Newark.  So to do that by train I would have had to leave at 430pm, whereas a 530pm cab would allow me to catch a better and faster train out of Newark Penn (which for TV enthusiasts is what The Walking Dead is based on).

    So when I ordered my Lyft at 5:20 I was offered a faster ride (to arrive 8 minutes before the 6:03 train) if I upgraded to Lux (these are Lyft cars sans food/beverage/jizz stains) for a couple of dollars more.  Then I got a text from my Lux driver:

    “Are you going to [sic] far?”

    I did not reply because I was going exactly as far as I wanted. Not one step more.  So when my driverette (a female driver) showed up I hopped in and she asked where I was going. I told her Newark Penn Station and she said she wanted to go to NYC.  I thought, “You can, as soon as you drop me off.”  For the rest of the ride she kept nervously checking her phone, while hitting every bad patch of traffic.  Then as we got near Newark Penn at 5:59pm she opted to go through the most clogged traffic near the station and I missed the 6:03 by 1 minute.  She also rejected a person who was clearly her pick up at Newark Penn.  To top it all off, she dropped me off in the 3rd lane of traffic so she could make an easy escape to whatever awaited her in NYC.  When I opted to not tip her I noticed that she had 5 stars.  Not since the last Terrence Malik film I saw have I seen something so absurdly overrated.

    I caught the next express to Princeton and arrived at Princeton Junction at 7:00pm (8pm show time).  The club is located in the Princeton Hyatt and GPS said it was a 1.3 mile walk. I opted to walk. And then .4 miles into the walk the sidewalk disappeared.  This happens far too much in our car obsessed, fat fu*k society – even if you want to walk and keep the Grim Reaper at bay for another 20 minutes, you can’t.  So I ordered another Lyft to take me less than a mile because to walk this path in the dark would probably spell my death via oncoming traffic.  When my Lyft driver arrived he farted when I got in the car. And it smelled.  His rating on Lyft? 5 stars.

    I arrived at the hotel, checked in to a lovely king suite and then headed down to the club where there was an audience that could be described as “small.”  We had a good show (I posted to Twitter a sad engagement where no one got my Opus Dei reference) and oddly enough the crowd seemed to like me more the longer I was on stage, which is contrary to many audiences and most relationships I’ve been in. A highlight was seeing a friend from my days in Washington DC when I was a law student. Sadly I have only seen him around once a decade and a joke that hit well on stage was “a friend of mine from DC who saw me when my career started is here tonight. He knew me when I was only performing in front of a couple dozen people in DC. Now, 19 years later he sees me in a different city performing for a couple dozen people. Dreams come true!”  I retreated to my room with an ice cream bar after the show and got a solid 6 hours sleep.

    Saturday: Better Show. Better Lyft Ride. Papa Johns’.

    On Saturday morning I went to get breakfast. I saw a buffet display and was then told that it was for a private party.  I then made my way down to the restaurant for an delicious, overpriced hotel breakfast (this is why I prefer Hampton Inns, the official hotel chain of J-L’s comedy “career” – breakfast is always included). After that I did something I never get to do – I read all the magazines and papers I subscribe to – The Athletic, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Washington Post, NY Times and Michael Cohen’s substack.  I even spent 3 hours reading 1/8 of a ProPublica article!  Then it was time to have lunch with a long time fan who also had a business proposal to pitch me (TBD). We went to a great pizza place in Robbinsville, NJ called Papa’s Tomato Pie.  Superb.

    After I returned to the hotel I did a few hours of writing. I then had a steak dinner at the hotel restaurant (at this point my spending for the trip was approaching the pay check I would receive at the end of the night for the weekend work).  The set was strong (with about 40 new minutes since the (2) special tapings (angry emoji) to the point that I am planning on a spring taping of my 8th hour – tentative title “The Hateful 8th” – SELF PRODUCED) and as proof here is a clip from the show as well as a Facebook posting about one superb fan, that of course seemed to be interpreted by many on Facebook as more sentimental than funny, as it was intended, because… my #fans.

    So after the show I had a drink with the other comics and the show promoter. I then decided to head home that night, rather than sleep in the hotel again (even though it was really nice). I kept checking Lyft (prices ranged from $66 to $121) and then I saw on the wait and save option $54 to go from Princeton to my apartment in Bloomfield. SOLD!  My driver picked me up in a nice car (could have been a clean/jizz free Lux car, but was obtained via the common folk option) and beat the estimated arrival time by 14 minutes, all while laughing with me when I told him about Friday’s two awful drivers.  I gave him a deserved 5 stars and a $20 cash tip because at the end of a weekend like this, someone good at their job should turn a profit.

    Thanks to CARS in Princeton and thanks to everyone who showed up.  Off to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 12 days.

  • Road Comedy Recap: Destroying York and Nyack October 19, 2022 by J-L Cauvin

    I am sitting in my old midtown Starbucks writing this in between another day at the law firm and before getting a haircut at my old barber shop before heading downtown to do a show at a restaurant for no money before returning to NJ for the night. So if you thought anything in my career or life had changed, it seems it has: I have a much longer commute home.

    This blog is delayed by about 3 days because I was sick on Sunday, the Lord’s blogging day, and could not hammer this out.  And then I had a busy week of podcasting and day jobbing and insomnia-ing.  So this brief moment in between work, chores and unpaid comedy is when I can recount for you the absolute comedic destruction I delivered on Friday and Saturday.  At this point, my comedy career feels like Neon in Blue Chips if Nick Nolte (and no one else) had ever discovered him in a small gym in “ALGIERS?!” He’d still be giving people work, but spending the rest of his days in business casual attire looming over a bunch of co-workers.  So let’s get to it before this Starbucks closes…

    Friday in York – Jean Betterman

    I was picked up by friend and comedian Chris Lamberth from my apartment Friday afternoon for our journey to York, PA.  We discusses movies and comedy for three hours and then got to our hotel. It was not a Hampton Inn so I cannot mention it as I try to preserve my potential future as a Hampton Inn spokesman (they get a solid shout out on my seemingly never to be released special Half Blackface, for which there will be a live memorial service on Sunday with my Patreon – if you want a ton of exclusive sketch videos, podcasts and more from me for very cheap you can join – just kidding! If you are a #fan of mine reading this, the last thing you want is to pay me for comedy).  We then went to the Appell Center for the Arts in downtown York, and to my surprise the show was a sell out (I think lots of people just go to whatever is in town, but I did have plenty of fans there as well).

    Daphne London led off the show with some funny musical comedy and then Chris did his thing from the middle spot.  And then I killed it.  There’s really nothing left to share.  I had a set that was so strong with 80% new material since the two tapings of Half Blackface that I wish I had recorded it on high quality video and then thrown it out just to replicate the feeling from my greatest set ever in October 2021.  I felt great after, sold a bunch of albums and then went to Iron Horse York for a post show meal celebrating my triumph.  I ate a delicious piece of cake and went to sleep.

    Saturday – Raising Money for Democrats in Nyack

    Chris and I left York at 730 the next morning (or thereabouts) and made it an hour or so before stopping at an IHOP.  After crushing that we went all the way back to NJ.  But it was a quick turnaround for me because I had to go to Nyack to headline a small fundraiser for Democrats in Clarkstown, NY.  Because NJ transit is dumb, here was how I had to go:

    • 5:05 train to NY Penn Station
    • Walk to Grand Central
    • Get the 6:45 express Metro North to Tarrytown
    • Take a Lyft across the Mario Cuomo (birth name Tappan Zee before it wanted to play boys’ sports) Bridge to the venue in Nyack


    When I got there I finished mapping out my set in the green room and then proceeded to do an entire set of political material and impressions, about 2/3 of which I had written that day.  It went over very well.  Here is a clip:

    I then mingled with people after, ate a brownie (an actual brownie, not a mini girl scout – I only respect Armie Hammer, I am not actually him) and then Pete Dominick, the comedian who organized the event, drove me to the Tarrytown Metro North at barely safe speeds allowing me to make the train back to the city by a minute.  I then walked from Grand Central back to Penn Station in time to get a 12:20am to Newark, from where I procured a Lyft to take me home. When I arrived I ate a pint of ice cream while watching SNL. I fell asleep and when I woke 5 hours later I had such a bad sore throat that I was gagging on my phlegm and thought for about 10 minutes I might die (when my life flashed before my needlessly paranoid eyes – my two thoughts were that my special really was going to come out after I was dead and that my girlfriend and dog would be upset discovering my body, primarily because of how difficult it would be to move).  For more on that fun experience – check out my podcast this week – just kidding, if you are a #fan I know you won’t!

    Next road gigs?  PRINCETON, NJ the end of the month!

  • Road Comedy Recap: Boston Sleeps With The Phishes July 17, 2022 by J-L Cauvin

    So this weekend I made a trip to Boston for an encore performance at City Winery. Last July my trip to Boston represented one of my first post/mid/where are we in the pandemic comedy road trips and it was a smashing success. Despite my pessimism at only being offered a Monday night spot I got around 150 people in the main room, met lots of fans and returned home to NJ the next day a conquering hero.  So this year I felt even happier to get a Friday spot at CW.  I had initially booked two Friday shows (the smaller room, which is better for comedy, seats 75 people so I figured 150 on a Monday in July = at least 150 tickets on a Friday in July). As my friend Duane said to me after the show on Friday, “I tried to buy tickets for the late show, but it was sold out.”  I replied, “We canceled it because sales were awful.” He replied “Well you could have said nothing and let me think it was sold out.” I replied, “for better, and most certainly for worse, my entire comedy career’s essence forces me to say exactly what I just said.”  So now that you know the middle of the road story, let’s get going on the whole thing.

    The Way to Boston

    I took a day off from work (I now try to factor in the cost of  vacation days when taking a comedy gig, the way companies should factor carbon output into their value) and hopped on the 10:03am Acela to Boston.  The train was uneventful. I helped my seatmate, a petite Asian woman, put her suitcase in the luggage compartment. Either I am getting weaker or Thor’s hammer was in her suitcase because that thing was heavy AF.  The real highlight came when a fan, before departing one of the stops just outside of Boston tapped me on the shoulder and said she was a big fan.  I said I was headed to Boston to do a show and she said she knew but her husband had tickets to Phish.  As if that was not bad enough, some guy on the train (one of these Phish people that apparently have unlimited vacation days to tour the country to watch Phish) chimed in with “you’re going to Phish? Me too!”  I wanted to say “Hey fella, can’t you see this is a fan-entertainer conversation?  No one asked what the Ungrateful Dead fan thinks about any of this!”  But instead I thanked the fan for her support and waited to arrive at South Station (as I learned this morning before leaving for NYC it is actually the Michael Dukakis Train Station – PUT SOME GREEK SALAD RESPECT ON HIS HAIRY NAME!)

    City Winery

    I walked to my hotel, Club Quarters, from MDTS. Serviceable enough hotel, though my bathroom smelled very musky. Then it was time for sound check. The young staff on the show was all very nice and positive.  The lead was a young woman whose experience working with artists and her psych degree clearly gave her a good set of skills to communicate with giant, despondent, self-deprecating comedic geniuses before shows.

    I made my way back to my hotel to shower and go over my set list (of the show, at least 50 minutes were written in the last 2 months, post the new special). And on an extra good note, my friend Al, part of a Williams College group of friends coming to the show (Utah Jazz Coach and Class of 2008 Eph Will Hardy was disappointingly not there – he must still be busy helping demolish my favorite team – WHY COULDN’T IT BE AN AMHERST GRAD TO DO THAT!?), had been able to get on a last flight out of Chicago after his planned flight was canceled.

    So I went on stage at 7:20 and outside of a bit on Mark Wahlberg and comparing terror attacks in Boston and NY to the Red Sox and Yankees, which did fine but ruffled some, I think the set was a big success.  I do not want to mention some of the topics (simply because several of them are original and I would not want to inspire someone else to do bad versions of my work), but I will probably post some audio/and or video to my patreon this week.  I also busted out an impromptu George Carlin impression for a bit where I was parsing some language.  One fan was at the show 2 days after his father had passed, which was very touching and would have been a much more valid excuse to miss a show than Phish (just kidding Acela fan!).

    But it turned out that in addition to all of Boston going away every weekend in the Summer, there were a ton of big concerts in the area on Friday. Not only Phish, but Zac Brown Band and, the big one nearby, New Kids On The Block, whose audience could only be described as a “white, middle-aged flesh tsunami” (as I dubbed it after the show).  After the show my group of Williams friends and I made our way to a nearby sports bar to watch the Red Sox-Yankees game, which the Yankees predictably lost (since I was watching).


    The next morning I woke up and read on a park bench downtown while having a cup of coffee.  As I took in downtown Boston, and wrote in a tweet, it felt like watching American History get molested by a shopping mall.  The proximity of commercialism and historical landmarks is so jarring, at least to a visitor.  I then went with my friends and some of their kids to a family friendly brewery called Trillium (seems like an oxymoron, but it seemed to work – beer, kids, driving – what could go wrong?!). I had 3 drinks and then proceeded to play whiffle ball with everyone.  My personal highlights were ripping a double with one hand and on a routine grounder, fielding it and then tumbling to the ground as some combo of beer, surgically repaired knee and 43 year old-thinking-he’s still 29-clumsiness took hold of me.  I cannot imagine what that looked like to half a dozen elementary school age kids, but it had to have been jarring.

    I had to take a Lyft back to Boston early because I had to go to Mass (since I am on Amtrak all morning and they don’t provide a snack car chaplain). I arrived in Little Italy for Mass, which meant I had to kiss my hand after doing every sign of the cross.  I also noticed that there were a lot more young and attractive people at Mass in Boston than in NYC or NJ – is this because they are still trying to bag a Kennedy?

    After Mass I went back to my hotel and prepped to go watch the Sox and Yankees with my friends, but after a long, fun and tiring day drinking and playing whiffle ball in the Sun the plan was nixed.  So I did not get to watch the Yanks (of course they won 14-1).


    I got up early for the 6:35am train back to NYC, which is where I am writing this.  It is not an Acela train, but I am sitting next to a guy wearing a Brown University Sailing hat.  It makes sense that I am on this regular people, slow train – comedians on the downside of their career are right at home.  But someone on an Ivy League sailing team?  You are not doing life right if you are on the poor people train.

  • The End of the Utah Jazz July 1, 2022 by J-L Cauvin

    This week the Utah Jazz, my favorite sports team for so many reasons (explained in a hilarious, poor audio quality mini special I recorded in Utah in February of this year), hired Will Hardy to be their next head coach.  Coach Hardy went to Williams College where he played basketball.  I also went to Williams College and practiced a lot of basketball (most of my college career was as a quad and biceps model in garbage time of games), graduating 7 years before Hardy did.  So this week started as an exciting and hopeful one, but today that hope came crashing down as the Jazz traded franchise centerpiece and 3 time Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert, to the Minnesota Timberwolves for several first round picks and some players.

    People have been telling me the Jazz got a great haul. But before I dig a lot deeper – let’s examine that assertion. The T-Wolves seem to be planning on title contention and making all those picks in the mid 20s – there will be no ZIon Williamson or Jayson Tatum in the Jazz’ draft future, unless they suck all on their own (without Gobert, this Jazz team actually has 1980s Doug Moe-Denver Nuggets defensive potential).  But OK – let’s just accept for the sake of argument that Danny Ainge and the Jazz have made the decision to rebuild around Donovan Mitchell and this was a stellar haul for Gobert (in addition to the first round pick for Royce O’Neale).  Best case scenario the Jazz are title contenders in 4 years?  No guarantee of a title of course, but perhaps after they rebuild they will be even better than the best of the Gobert-Mitchell years.  But if they don’t win a title (and even if they do) it will have cost them, to quote Thanos, “everything.”

    I grew up in NYC so liking the Jazz was not logical and certainly not geographical.  But I was drawn to the stats in The Sporting News (you used to wait once a week for a sports newspaper that your older brother subscribed to to see stats – welcome to pre-Internet!) and underneath the name Michael Jordan every week in the scoring leaders was “Karl Malone – UTA” and above Magic Johnson on the assists column was always “John Stockton-UTA.”  This piqued my 8 year old curiosity and the way the two of them operated as a tandem was particularly enjoyable to a tall, bi-racial child whose Black father and white mother argued frequently.  From 4th grade until today (I am currently wearing a Rudy Gobert Jazz jersey) I could be found in purple or purple adjacent attire – looking like a hoops-obsessed Barney or Grimace on a weight training program.

    The Malone-Stockton years were great and I don’t know one Jazz fan who would trade Malone or Stockton (*clears throat* as players – without subsequent knowledge of past and future off the court activities) for an early 90s rebuild to see if they could topple the Lakers, Celtics or Bulls.  The Jazz had relevance, high quality play and an identity thanks to Malone, Stockton and Coach Jerry Sloan.  They lost to Jordan, which delights Jazz haters, but for Jordan’s GOAT status to mean anything to Jordan fans, it requires acknowledging that Malone and Stockton are all time great players, otherwise, how does defeating them twice enhance MJ’s legacy?

    After Malone and Stockton, Andrei Kirilenko and Sloan kept me interested in the Jazz.  They even won 42 games in the 2003-04 season with a starting lineup of: Carlos Arroyo, Gordon Giricek, Matt Harpring, Kirilenko and Greg Ostertag.  That is literally a squad that should tank unintentionally and instead they missed out on the playoffs by a single game, if my memory serves me correctly. Their lack of talent caught up the next year which would lead to the Deron Williams-Carlos Boozer era – a time of brief, surprising success that was shattered with the retirement of Sloan.  So the Jazz were forced into a rebuild… which they did expeditiously.  It seemed the franchise always was in a hurry to get good. To be relevant. To give their fans a product worth cheering for.  So they drafted Gordon Hayward (and made several other egregious draft errors – taking Enes Kanter and Alec Burks at 3 and 12 when Klay Thomson and Kawhi Leonard were available at 11 and 15 stands out to me) and Rudy Gobert and were back to being a 50 win team quickly after being terrible.  They could never do it via free agency, but yet they managed to do it nonetheless.  Hayward ditched the team on the precipice of being a top tier team, but then Donovan Mitchell arrived and that led us to the inchoate success of the Gobert-Mitchell era.

    My shopping spree from 2022 now looks like a roadside memorial

    The playoffs have been frustrating and inconsistent recently, but 15 months ago the Jazz had the best record in the league.  Mitchell is 25 and Gobert is 30.  Malone and Stockton did not reach the finals until their 12th/13th seasons.  Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas legend, lost in a finals in 2006, won and MVP the next year, but was bounced from the playoffs in Round 1 (this would be the type of shame that might have ended his time in Dallas had social media been then what is is now), but he stayed and in year 12 (I think) he won a title against the Big 3 of Miami.

    But contrast that with Giannis who won a title at 25 years old last season. Had they lost on a Kevin Durant 3 pointer or lost to the Suns, their coach might have been fired and the speculation that maybe Giannis was not “that guy” would have been in full force… for a 25 year old 2x MVP. It is insanity (a hint of it was delivered to Jayson Tatum after his finals performance this year).  Like with our politics, social media has had an irredeemably and perhaps irreversible negative impact on sports. So now, the Jazz had to “blow it up” because two stars in their prime hit a rough patch.

    But to many people reading this you may be thinking “it’s a business” or “if the Jazz want to win this is how it’s done,” but being a fan used to mean more than just that.  Now you have superstars ring shopping, cheapening their careers and the value of the ring.  I have no geographic or family ties to Utah.  So the team and its culture are the only things that keep me so dedicated as a fan.  Being able to watch the development of Gobert and Mitchell is part of what endears them to fans like me. Yes, the uniform matters, but seeing their growth and talent in that uniform is an x factor that cannot be quantified merely by wins and losses.  Gobert roasted Hayward when he ditched the Jazz for the Celtics and now he has been dealt away with the same level of mercenary disloyalty.  The Jazz that won 42 games with Kirilenko and a G league roster is why I root for the Jazz.  Because, at the risk of sounding corny, doing it the “right way” still counts. Or it should.  And the fact that Rudy and Donovan might both compete for titles in the next 3-5 years leads me to ask the obvious “why not try and keep them together?” Maybe they needed their Hornacek and Sloan, instead of the franchise needing a new Malone and/or Stockton.

    A good friend told me something many years ago that I reference from time to time.  He had said (this was at least 10 years ago) that with the rise of the Kardashians, monetizing everything they possibly could, young people no longer registered “selling out” as a negative. Survey responders did not even really register the concept.  And I think that mindset has really taken hold to an absurd degree.  After Hamilton made Lin Manuel Miranda 9 figures his next stop? American Express pitchman.  After Watchmen, Regina King endorsing Wells Fargo.  And a mere month after seeing Paperboi mock woke capitalism on Atlanta, I saw the actor who plays Paperboi doing a Tulsa Massacre ad for Citibank. I know people have been selling out forever, but it was not as common as it is today (American actors had to do their commercials in Asia so as to not tarnish their image). These are just the examples that popped into my head while writing this, but it seems that the ends justify the means to truly absurd degrees (all the way to a recent White House occupant that declared “They’re not here to hurt me”). A championship. Money. Power. Followers on tik tok. The list goes on and on. It is not that this is occurring that is alarming – it is that it is becoming the default expectation and not the negative exception.

    So seeing the Jazz go into this mode, selling off an all time great in his prime is normal for our time. I get that. But what makes you think a bi-racial kid from NYC being a die hard Utah Jazz fan for 35 years considered “normal” his number one criterion for supporting a team?  Maybe the Jazz will get really good. Maybe they will win a title.  But it will have cost them more than just Rudy Gobert. And whatever that cost is, they can now never get it back.

  • Convenience Over Life June 8, 2022 by J-L Cauvin

    Jimmy Carter warned that the country needed to get off of fossil fuels over 4 decades ago.  Needless to say we did not listen. Or perhaps we listened and did not like what we heard because Carter was given the boot for Ronald the Baptist, who would unknowingly, but certainly, pave the way for Donald Christ.  Unfortunately, this is emblematic of modern American politics: a lethal combination of short term selfishness and long term stupidity.  And I should be clear, this is not a “both sides” argument.  I simply say “modern politics” because the reality is that the American Republican party controls our politics, not as a majority representing the will of the people, but more like the way stage 4 Lung Cancer controls the life of a longtime smoker.  And given that enough Americans seem to want to continue metaphorically smoking rather than seeking moral and political chemotherapy, we may really be in the end phase of America’s “greatness,” however you might define that.  I think that even goodness may be too high a calling for America.

    Of course, while acknowledging the obvious asymmetry in what causes our political paralysis and cynicism,  this does not mean the Left is absolved.  “Do Something!” they shout and tweet after a mass shooting, but do they yell at their neighbors to “do something!” on Election Day?  Do they themselves vote and participate in the boring parts that make democracy work, or do they rely on cynicism on those days, staying home to tweet dissatisfaction?  “We must solve homelessness!” but do they support higher taxes or shelters and/or affordable housing near their properties?  “We need criminal justice reform!” but do they balk at long term policing and prosecutorial changes the first instance some crime ticks up from record lows (I added this one after the San Francisco DA was recalled)?

    The problem is that even though the Right is far more responsible for the denigration of Democracy & the dysfunction of D.C., the whole country appears afflicted to some degree.

    A couple of weeks ago I was driving (OK – being driven) from Philadelphia, PA to Sellersville, PA for a show. As we increased our distance from the city to the suburbs and towns I noticed, like hundreds of trips I have taken around the country, that the houses got bigger and nicer.  Without any data or even knowing the economic or political information about the specific towns I went through in Pennsylvania I can say with certainty that I have been to dozens of affordable towns over the years with houses and properties that would be 5x as expensive or more if located closer to cities (or even strip malls).  But this appears to be America’s promise – if you are willing to drive a long way, American Dream – classic edition is still within reach for more people than it should be.

    Living in cities costs more and comes with benefits, but those benefits are often paid for and are ecologically more sustainable.  These places are often vilified by the Right, but Blue cities and states clearly contribute more to the national economy and less to national gun deaths (per capita).  To quote Col. Jessup, “I would rather you say thank you and be on your way.”  As I listen to the stories about gas prices hurting Americans I have to wonder: did people never think the bill would come due?  Instead of treating this as the 20th foreshadowing of the ecological and economic catastrophe of climate change, it is treated as an inconvenience or a deprivation of the fundamental right to cheap gas and a larger carbon foot print as long as you are willing to drive an hour or two a day to get to your American dream (which, of course, compounds the problems).

    I think the aforementioned guns are another good example of this at work.  Some states pass laws to protect their citizens from gun violence, but they are only as strong as the porous gun laws in neighboring states.  But once again, the freedoms of the (majority) conservative spaces in this country are sacrosanct and the rights to clean air, life and a future for the actual majority seem to be allowed only as far as they are compatible with the immediate whims and desires of “Real Americans,” who love their country more than anyone, but often seem to live in spaces with… fewer Americans.

    The American Dream has become an environmental, economic and emotional Ponzi scheme.  Except if you point out the problem early (Jimmy Carter) you will get voted out and if you preside over the consequences (Joe Biden) your approval ratings will plummet.  How can anything actually get done when enough of the voting public will punish you for trying to solve a problem or blame you before you can fix it?  The Right often acts like food stamps and other forms of assistance create a dependency that will ruin the country and the communities that are (perceived to be) the beneficiaries of those benefits.   Yet somehow, many Americans need never make the choice between more expensive housing or higher gas prices, because living cheaply is the right of “real Americans.”  This is not a sustainable model for a country or a future.  No one would accept a politician saying “If you wanted cheaper gas bills at the pump, maybe you should have worked harder so you could live closer to your job or the city!”  And yet, it has always been a viable political argument to so many in this country to decry poverty as more of a life choice than middle class comforts as the choices that they actually are.

    We will not limit guns, even if to save the lives of some children. Gun control cannot stop all shootings. But is it not worth stopping some shootings?  Is unlimited cheap gas some inalienable right or something we should have moved beyond decades ago?  Is shoplifting and homelessness the fault of progressive DA’s in the first 2 years of their tenure, or symptoms of problems going back decades?

    Covid, as I feared, proved the depth of our concern with the individual over the greater good.  If we are bombing brown people we must be united as a nation, but to save life, the personal burden of wearing a mask or getting a vaccine was too intrusive for many.  How can we expect people to become more selfless when we couldn’t stop being selfish as a million Americans died?  How can we expect to save the planet for our grandkids when we couldn’t wear a mask to save our grandparents?

    To end on a truly depressing note (before I read the article in today’s New York Times about the “environmental nuclear bomb” in red Utah), I was waiting for a train in New York’s Penn Station a couple of afternoons ago and a homeless man, who clearly had intellectual disabilities, was asking for money.  He had cigarette burns in his sweatshirt. He seemed genuinely harmless as he walked from person to person saying “excuse me, do you have change?”  Sadly I did not have money on me.  I thought to myself, how are we a society where a man to exist like this?  How much would it be worth to make sure he has a roof over his head, clothing that does not look ravaged from both nature and humans, and safety from a world that I can only imagine has been unimaginably cruel to him?  How much would the pro-life Right and the progressive Left be willing to add on to their gas bill or gun permit fee?  Sadly, I think the answer is $0 and that seems appropriate for a country headed quickly toward moral bankruptcy.