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Malcontent Creator

Callbacks in stand up comedy are a common trick.  The comedian will mention something in an early joke and then later, or at the end of the set, the comedian will re-introduce or allude to the earlier mentioned thing in a way that wraps up the set. It can often be funny, but sometimes it is simply a trick to make the audience feel smart.  They get to say to themselves, or the person next to them, “I remember that from earlier!”  And the joy that comes from that is not always because the callback is funny, but because it allows the audience member to pat themselves on the back.

Or as I once said to someone, “people are mostly stupid and callbacks give them the momentary feeling of being smart.”

Now, I have been a bitter curmudgeon for a majority of my career.  As long time readers of this blog will know, up until 2020, I spent over a decade as a road comedian, performing as a middle act at comedy clubs around the country.  Middle acts have not seen a raise in pay in at least 30 years and as you know, bus, train and plane fares are not operating at 1987 rates. In addition to that,  some comedy clubs have stopped providing rooms for middle acts so a typical weekend may end up netting a middle act zero profit unless he has albums to sell (which I do) or t-shirts to sell (I would rather work in a Spencer’s Gifts than use my stand up career to hock t-shirts, though I sympathize with those that do it because of the awful economics of stand up comedy).  I spent years writing about the shameful economics of stand up comedy and once I realized that middle acts were too scared to jeopardize their meager opportunities and headliners were too far removed from struggles to care  or help that I came to the conclusion that I was simply a tree falling in an empty forest.

So realizing that trying to change the business of stand up comedy was futile I became sort of depressed with the life I had chosen – attempting a career in a profession with horrible business practices and a workforce with a factory-installed scab mindset is a tough place to try and change things.  But as time has gone on, from things like Soundcloud rap to Twitter “front facing comedy” to Tik Tok dances I see that what once felt like an industry problem has become a much bigger societal and cultural problem: commerce and virality are not just driving business decisions, but are now the driving force of art itself.

The De-evolution of Dance

I am not a dancer.  Even at my most athletic I was not much of a dancer, but certainly not now, as I am practically an inanimate object, but for my expanding waistline.  But we all know great dancers – from Fred Astaire to Michael Jackson to Chris Brown, etc. we know a great dancer when we see one.  Great dancing was once something we could gawk at or would make you really cool at a Bar Mitzvah, but as Tik Tok demonstrates, it seems that dancing is no longer about doing something that no one else can do – it is about doing something that everyone can do.

Years before I reluctantly joined Tik Tok I would see people posting “Tik Tok challenges” and wondered “what is the challenge?”  They often appeared just to be 15 seconds of easily replicated choreography.  But like the callback in stand up, the point was not to make a great dance move; the point was to get engagement. And by calling it a “challenge” instead of “anyone can do this you uncreative sack of shit” you incentivized engagement and might even go “viral,” the holy grail of 21st century creation.  And as Tik Tok goes, not only to the original inventors go viral, but copycats can go viral as well!

Art nowadays feels like the meeting point of “inclusivity” and “the death of expertise.”  Like if anti-maskers got together with the San Francisco school board and decided on the worst ways to ruin real creativity.  But Tik Tok is the current king of social media, so it seems “imitate” is the new “create.”  My only question would be did Tik Tok create this world or simply accelerate where we were headed?  Seems safe to bet that it is the latter, since the genius of Tik Tok’s algorithm is delivering what we already want.

Making Art for the Algorithm

As I write this blog on Word Press, there is a running tracker on the side bar, indicating this blog’s “readability.” Through algorithms, the site is telling me how “readable” my sentence structure and paragraph breakdowns are. I started at “good,” but am now at “needs improvement” (the last time I got “needs improvement” on something was my 1st grade report card where my math and reading were 100, but my “listening skills” needed improvement. My answer to my parents at the time was “I must be listening if my other grades are 100” – that is how a condescending monster is born).  In other words, Word Press is helping the writer curate their writing to an algorithm-based audience.  I am ignoring the advice because this is not 2001: A Blog Odyssey, but it is instructive. More and more the goal is to modify one’s work to meet the audience, rather than produce work and hope that your truest, best effort gets an audience.

I referenced Soundcloud rap earlier because of this point.  A few years ago I read about how Soundcloud rappers were making shorter songs, often with a hook that seemed indistinguishable from so many others and only one verse because that combination would often lead to maximizing the number of plays of a song.  So as we all laughed at the record executive in Bohemian Rhapsody questioning Freddy Mercury on the lunacy of a 6 minute pop song, in real life “artists” (quotes because I cannot really consider someone an artist who doesn’t prioritize the art in the creation of said art) were basically trying to serve up songs under 3 minutes!

In stand up comedy I see the same thing happening. Because of horrible economics, Sirius XM is one of the greatest sources of income to (trying to be) working comedians.  Because I never shared the rights to my work with any large labels for “exposure” (something I have told comedians for a decade to little avail) I have made almost $200K since 2014, largely through satellite radio royalties.  But, like Soundcloud rap, shorter has become better and I have seen comedians making albums with 30 tracks, all under 2 minutes to help rotation.  Once again, I understand due to the economics of stand up comedy why someone would do this, but would we have a comedian like Gary Gulman if when he started the economics of comedy were basically making him choose between a 10 minute bit on cookies and a 90 second bit on Hydrox?  Is that in any way good for stand up comedy? To favor only quick hits and to have that favoritism shaping newer comedians? I would say no. Sure a Dave Attell would not have to change a thing with his great comedy, but not everyone is or should be a Dave Attell.

Important Comedy

Something that seemed to begin with Jon Stewart but really accelerated under Trump has been people getting their news from comedians. John Oliver has rode this trend to multiple Emmys for what is a very good show, though not necessarily the funniest.  While I don’t think Stewart or Oliver are particularly at fault here as they do provide a lot of laughs, it seems that the growing trend is that if comedy is “important,” whether it be Hannah Gadbsy’s Nanette, John Oliver’s shows or Dave Chappelle’s recent foray into spoken word then it is “good comedy” (when did comedians stop trying to make their points through comedy, at least while on a stage, and just decide “this will be the serious part of my comedy show”? I always thought the extra genius of Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central was that he made all his points sharply and brilliantly with, and through, comedy). When we reward “importance” over laughs in the comedy space it seems to incentivize comedy on both sides of the political aisle that is merely hammering one’s ideological opponents (there are plenty of funny people I know right of center who seem to have become redundant bashers of what they view as P.C. culture so it is not just the left that does this). It also has probably let many people off the hook in terms of being engaged and serious citizens. When The Daily Show was at its Jon Stewart-peak it was often said, perhaps apocryphally, that more young people were getting their news from Jon Stewart than mainstream media.  As fun as that might sound, it is not actually a good thing.  Reading the paper every morning is about 90 minutes of my day. I know not everyone has that much time or desire, but 22 minutes of comedy at 11pm is also not the answer (to say nothing of the garbage being called “news” on right wing stations).

Even in a year when I put out a disproportionate amount of political comedy relative to my normal amount, I am proud that at least 90% of my content whether stand up, impressions or comments, have been comedy.  If I had remained one note for the whole year perhaps my following would have continued to grow but I am a comedian. Though I have lots to say about lots of things (as this “needs improvement” blog shows) I feel like if people follow me for comedy, then it is my job as a comedian to provide… comedy. However, social media seems to want people to be Mariano Rivera and not David Cone. Let me explain non sports folks. Rivera is the hall of fame pitcher who threw one devastating pitch for his entire career. David Cone was a master craftsman who could throw (if I remember correctly) 4 different pitches, threw them from different angles and was also a workhorse.  I prefer to be a David Cone (if not an outright Bo Jackson hehe) of comedy, but it seems that Twitter often rewards people for staying in one, predictable lane.  And the way it works on our brains is that once we are rewarded for certain content, the motivation becomes to provide that content or opinion all the time, like a Mariano Rivera cut fastball, except more annoying and less interesting.

So social media, at least on Twitter (I quit Facebook over 2 years ago because I felt like destroying democracy in this country was not worth getting birthday messages from people I did not know in real life), it has devolved into people hammering home the exact same points over and over again, including the rise of “front facing character comedy,” but which seems to exponentially grow, like a the mob of zombies in World War Z (see below).  Along with this what has bothered me is a sort of rise in cowardice in comedy.  I did a series of parodies as Dave Chappelle recently and was told by someone that I shouldn’t do it because Dave is doing some cool philosophical stuff. Huh?  Almost 8 years ago I went viral for impersonating Louis CK. It was done with some venom, not because I had anything personal against the man (none of his scandals were public), but because I do comedy with some bite.  I got a lot of hate and a lot of love for that video, but now there seems to be even more caution. Because the powerful in comedy seem to have so much power people seem to only want to mock those who do not threaten their fiefdom.  If you are on the right you will dunk on The Nation and late night hosts because those avenues are not open to you, but you probably won’t do too much critiquing of Joe Rogan. On the left, you will continue to mock the GOP, but will tip toe carefully about “punching down” or making jokes about Joe Biden.  I have said this for 8 years, but in comedy it used to be “nothing is sacred,” but not it appears to be “as long as I don’t align with it, it is not sacred.”  This is in part because of algorithm-driven content but also in a selective form of bravery among today’s comedians.

Are Fans Getting Dumber and More Entitled or Did We Make Them that Way?

I have often written that many of the people who complain about “PC Culture” and “Cancel Culture” do not seem to recognize that their increase in wealth and exposure did not occur in a vacuum. It happened on the Internet. The cost of greater exposure is greater exposure.  People watching comedy are no longer just stand up comedy or sketch fans – they are bored people who may have never entered a club  or said a funny thing in their lives but want a diversion. If their eyeballs helped fuel your rise then their opinions are going to be part of tearing you down as well.  I have not griped about being cancelled, but I do wonder if the business of comedy and the Internet, combined with what feels like an increasingly dumb population is what will really destroy art and comedy in particular.

I remember watching a season of a singing show (I think it was the X Factor, but it might have been American Idol) where Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls was challenged by an angry contestant to sing and sing she did.  The songs of the Pussycat Dolls songs did not exactly require the range of Mozart’s Queen of the Night aria so I assumed Scherzinger would be mediocre. But she was not. Her voice was excellent and powerful.  And I had a thought those many years ago that I am guessing very few people have had, other than the Pussycat Dolls – were the Pussycat Dolls dumbing down their talent to make it more accessible?  And that seems to be the perfect storm we have arrived at of late.  Business models that cater to short attention spans, art that inspires and encourages imitation rather than awe and fans that are conditioned to need art curated to their tastes, opinions and capacities as they are.

We elected George W. Bush because people wanted to have a beer with him.  We have a Covid outbreak because your angry neighbor’s opinion on masks was as valid as Dr. Facui’s and we have an art landscape that seems to be increasingly driven by algorithms rather than artistry.  If they redid The Matrix today, Neo would just be a Tik Tok star producing 15 second hooks because that is all that would be needed to thrive on the app (while his comatose body lay hooked up to machines in a comedy club).  I see political pundits driving conversation about comedy, comedians being praised for offering self-serving, punchline-free “analysis” and fans treating comedy like it’s Uber Comedy Eats (do zero impressions and you’ll be treated like an unknowable genius; do 30 impressions and fans will treat you like a jukebox).  And this does not even touch the loss of the concept of “selling out” (a friend once told me about a survey many years ago where the impact of Kim Kardashian (who might as well be Patient Zero of the plague known as “influencing” – I think of her as the George Washington of Only Fans), had basically eliminated the concept of “selling out” in young people’s minds.  Being a brand or an influencer was as good or better than being an artist or creator and you can certainly do both now with almost no one questioning your integrity. We can save that for another “needs improvement” blog).

One of the 4 Influencers of the Apocalypse

I will (finally) leave you with this.  A few weeks ago I took a selfie of my hair and said “a week away from being able to do my Malcolm Gladwell impression.”  The following exchange then took place (paraphrasing):

Fan: More like another year

Me: Oh you need to update your Gladwell afro reference point.

Fan: shares a picture of Gladwell with the date 2008 on the picture. In it, Gladwell has a very large afro

Me: sharing a 2020 picture of Gladwell with significantly shorter hair saying “yes your pic is from 12 years ago.”

Fan: Hey dude – it is your joke – if I have to know what Gladwell’s hair is like now it sort of ruins the joke. Sorry you can’t take some friendly Twitter sparring.

I then blocked him for being a nuisance, but I felt the exchange illustrated so much of what this blog encompasses.  So I suppose, even though the Twitter algorithm has not been friendly to me over the last 4+ months (but still I am way ahead of the game compared to my social media worth a year ago) I am falling prey to the deal I warned others about: the Internet giveth happiness but it can taketh away.  However, this has not changed my fundamental desire as a comedian: to headline comedy clubs. I still have faith in the people that spend their moneys to go to live comedy that they truly understand the art and what it is about (not 100% but a lot more than the social media world for sure).  In a comedy club they are not there just to be distracted from their office job or Covid; they are there for stand up comedy.  On-line content, and especially comedy, feels ever more disposable and as platforms cater to the whims of their shareholders, it becomes harder and harder to get a critical mass of fans to provide meaningful support. As business, social media & clout chasing mediocrities posing as creators combine forces they will strengthen their collective grip on determining what we want and like.  And at some point, even a callback will not be enough to penetrate the stupidity we will have fostered.

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Quevenzhané Wallis – If She Were Kim and Kanye’s…

Last night was Oscar night and everything was going along as I had planned.  Seth MacFarlane proved what can go wrong in American entertainment when the nerds dominate and are given full alternative, punchlines-optional (Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy provided the worst humor moment I can remember in Oscar History), Star Trek co-hosting free reign.  It was not a disaster in hosting, but I did cringe when he told a Lincoln joke that was so lame and so designed to just get to a trite “too soon” quip (see this for my official rules).  As far as the Awards go I had predicted most of the awards correctly including Ang Lee and Argo wins, but did fail to get best animated feature correct (Brave sort of sucked, Wreck It Ralph was robbed).  And just as I was retiring for the night I saw some tweets about a controversial tweet by the satirical newspaper The Onion. So I looked it up and here is what they tweeted:

“Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right? #Oscars2013”

It was the hardest I laughed all night.

The Onion has taken it down, but has not issued an apology yet.  And they should not.  The Onion is a hilarious, envelope pushing product, but sadly they upset part of the liberal fans, who delight in bashing and mocking everything from sports to religion and everything celebrity.  But why did this one hurt so much?  Because they used the word cunt?  Please.  The Onion is always irreverent.  And if the story came out 9 months from now, but instead of referring to Wallis, it said “Kim and Kanye give birth to 7 lb 6 oz cunt” do you really think the outrage would be the same?  I doubt it because their child, despite being an innocent child, will never have the sympathy or affection of the general public.  In fact, just this week I saw hundreds of tweets about Kim and Kanye’s unborn child that were “horrible.”  This is of course because people are treating the unborn girl as a celebrity already.  But Wallis is more darling to the liberal crowd that The Onion courts and Wallis makes that crowd feel good about themselves.  She is a tiny black child playing a poor black child in a movie that became a little-engine-that-could to Hollywood.  The movie was not even that great, but it had the kind of story and star that can make people feel good about themselves.  Not because the movie is super feel good, but because by watching it and cheering for a tiny black child, Hollywood and the liberal readers of The Onion can feel good about themselves for cheering for her and the movie.

It is too bad that The Onion deleted it, but I really hope they do not apologize.  The joke had nothing to do with the kid.  It is clearly meant as a mockery of the cattiness of Hollywood culture and the fact that she is nine years old is the source of 90% of the humor.  Unlike, say Don Imus’ infamous comments referring to the Rutgers Women’s basketball team as “nappy headed hoes””( a rude joke that I don’t think he should have been punished for either), this joke is even more obviously a joke because of the age of Wallis.

I consider myself left of center, but probably center to center-right as far as the comedy community is concerned, but stories like this annoy me.  It feels like partially fake-outrage because of the arbitrary lines some in the general public and in comedy are willing to draw.  This is not about preserving Wallis’ integrity, but about preserving the feel good moment for those that enjoyed patting themselves on the back for having a tiny black girl nominated for best actress.  I am sure you are not conscious of it if you are reading this and disagree (and maybe some of you do feel genuine outrage), but once again, if this were about Will Smith’s kid, would you be as horrified?

I understand that Wallis is a tiny and adorable child and that referring to the girl as any bad name is cruel and crude, but it does not mean that it is not funny, and in this context clearly is not about delivering an actual insult to or about the young actress.  But the new battlefront in comedy appears to be protecting non-conventional celebrities from the glare and satire that comes with celebrity. Folks like Lena Dunham, Adele and now Wallis are deemed untouchable by people within and outside of comedy. Any joke about them (or in Wallis’ case, mentioning them) is deemed some sort of cruel, below the belt attempt at humor because they give good feelings to their fans about themselves.  Rooting for Dunham or Wallis gives the fan self-worth, so a joke about these women or others like them becomes an attack on the fan who in defending the celebrity is really guarding the good feelings they feel for themselves.

So hopefully The Onion does not apologize for doing what they do, but if they do I hope all these outraged folks remember this when they start an onslaught of jokes and Kim and Kanye’s baby later this year.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning about the Oscars check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes tomorrow (Feb 26th)

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Utah Jazz Week Journal Part 2: New Jersey Nets

So after a painful and disgraceful loss to the Washington Wizards the Utah Jazz got just what they needed – the New Jersey Nets.  So last night I travelled to the Prudential Center in Newark (really nice arena, but made me sad to know the Nets will abandon the arena in less than 2 years.  I looked at all the employees like the Cars in the small town in the Pixar film Cars; one day they will be underemployed.).

The staff of the Prudential Center will be a lot less busy when the Nets leave for Brooklyn.

It was also Russian Cultural night so in addition to Russia’s most famous basketball player in town, the Jazz’ Andrei Kirilenko, there apparently were also tons of prostitutes and skin care technicians in the arena. The national anthem was sung by some Russian woman who won a Russian contest.  It may have been the best rendition I have heard since Whitney Houston’s at the Super Bowl many years ago.  It was that good.  Side note – Alexander Ovechkin was at the game as well.  I think that tells you how badass the Nets’ owner is (like Michael Corleone requesting personal appearances from Johnny Fontaine).  He got the world’s greatest hockey player to come to a Nets’ game!  But I don’t think Mikhail Prokhorov asks a second favor.  Sadly the anthem would be the highlight for me and the Jazz.

Ovechkin, I would like you to come to Russian Culture Night at the Nets game. I do not ask twice.

The Jazz put up another stinker of a game.  They played the exact same way against the Wizards.  So similar it almost looks like a game plan.

  1. Play like crap in the first quarter.
  2. Pull even at halftime
  3. Play the 3rd quarter like you are trying to lose the game and go down at least 15
  4. Wait until 7 minutes remain in the game and then play your balls off and lose narrowly

The Utah Jazz, whether you hate them or love them, always played hard and with great execution.  It is why they were able to win, even when they had limited talent.  This team is not doing that.  It is the first time I have ever seen the Jazz underachieve.  The coaching and talent they have should result in a top 6 NBA team, but they are playing like a bottom 5 team.  But there were other things to annoy me, making the trip to Newark a huge disaster.

For one, the Nets dancers now appear to be dancers.  They used to be  glorified strippers bouncing around, but now the cleavage is gone and they actually look like they are trying to execute dance moves.  In past years it was a 50/50 proposition of whether one of the dances would blow the Nets’ mascot at midcourt.  Now, they just act like regular dancers, instead of exotic ones.  Perhaps the Nets’ billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov has already moved the former dancers directly on to his private jet.

The other terrible news was two part.  Kim Kardashian was at the game, so I had no problem telling my girlfriend, who was at the game with me, that this might be my chance.  I mean, why would Kim Kardashian be at the game (a Jazz-Nets game?), if not to meet a tall, underachieving man with a black father?  She is the Queen of the B list black athletes, so maybe she is ready to take a few more steps backward and date a G-list half-black comedian?  Well it turns out I was right, but only because she is now dating Nets’ forward Kris Humphries, who I cannot tell if he is a caucegro, but he looks like it.  So she is coming closer to my territory since she is dating a D list pro athlete.  So once Kardashian is on husband number 8 territory in her 50s she should be at the J-L Cauvin level of desperation.

He is only averaging 8.1 points per game more than I am.

But what was more disturbing than the Kardashian news was the fact that three male friends of mine (a screenwriter manager, a person who works in real estate and a comedian) all knew that she was dating Kris Humphries.  That is an absolute disgrace.  My girlfriend watches E! and she was not as up-to-date on Kim Kardashian’s dating life as three heterosexual men.  As Adam Carolla said with the title of his recent book, “In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks.”

So The Nets no longer employ whores as dancers, Kim Kardashian continues to date the wrong mediocre men and the Jazz played the worst game of basketball I have ever seen them play in person.  I guess it can only get better when I head to Philly on Saturday for Jazz-76ers.

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Primary School

Well, it was primary day in NY and six other states plus the District of Columbia yesterday.  Here are some of yesterday’s lessons that are clear about the American people (that I have harped on for so long):

1) Without a cool, young black guy there isn’t nearly as much enthusiasm for politics in America (from some groups).  Barack Obama’s double-edged sword of 2008 is coming to fruition.  He ran as a pop culture icon, which was brilliant personal strategy.  However, many of the “engaged new voters” (yes young people and black people I am talking to you most of all) who were not as much engaged in the political process as they were engaged in Facebook, Twitter and wanting to be part of history.  I waited an hour to vote in November 2008.  I waited 0 seconds yesterday, despite going at the same time of the day.   Ironically it was at the Church I attend and the demographics looked the same – me and some old women.

2) People want to matter, more than they care about issues.  The tea party has two unspoken founded principles.  One is that they are bursting with racist frustration at having a black president.  They KNOW they cannot say “Nig*er” but they can still feel it.  Joe McCarthy did not hate “socialism” as much as these people.  “Obamacare,” “socialist,” and “not born in America” are all surrogates for nig*er.  But the less insidious, but more relevant factor behind the Tea Party is the desire to matter.  The new American way is to force the world to recognize your relevance, even if you are completely irrelevant.  Some examples:

  • Reality television – failed actors and stupid people now can become stars, as long as they have an unbridled desire to be famous.  Talent, relevance or meaningful contributions are no longer needed to be famous.  All you need is the desire to be famous above all things.
  • Twitter, Facebook – we now all have important things to say
  • Political elections – The Tea Party is comprised almost entirely of angry, older white people and they were the ones who felt left behind by Obama’s election – either because of their age, the skin color or their inability to use a computer. 

The Tea Party is a great example of this.  They may cost Republicans a chance at the Senate because above political gains, they value being heard and being viewed as relevant above all.  Now they get attention paid to them.  That is the end game, whether they are conscious of it or not.  They are never going to win the White House, they are never going to win a 51 seat majority in the Senate.  But they are going to be noticed.

No one ever calls Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi a "socialist." hmmmmm

3) America is about “Me” and about “Them” and Not about “We” or “Us.”

Every marketing campaign in the U.S., from medical books to cable television has some variation of “It’s about you,” or “The Guide to You” or “On Your Time Warner.”  This is what people want.  An increasingly superficial and secular society still has the needs that family and religion provide(d).  Obama created his election in 2008 into a moment for each person to be involved with.  He may have said “You” and “We” as a collective term, but his election presented the rare opportunity for people to feel like they were individually part of history – something that we all seem to want nowadays.  But when that “we” started to be used to ask for patience and cooperation and voting in smaller elections that are just as critical, that “we” started to feel like being an anonymous part of a group, i.e. we’re no longer special and important individually.  That is why voter turnouts are terrible on primary days and on non-awe inspiring election days.

The flip side of this is why the Tea Party candidates won in New York and Delaware.  Carl Paladino, he of the Pimp Obama  e-mail, crushed Rick Lazio in the Republican primary because the Republicans that cared the most were the black-hating, black-fearing folks (sorry a photo of The President and First Lady as a pimp and a prostitute has no humor value unless you believe the simple fact that they are black makes them pimp and prostitute material – remember when being a racist could disqualify a lot of candidates?).  They were the most fearful of being left out of the new America (seriously can someone explain to me what is so drastically new in America?).  Also in Delaware, where you have the trifecta of being old, white and from Delaware – the perfect storm of obscurity, they nominated Christine O’Donnell, politically, fiscally and intellectually the poor man’s Sarah Palin.  But now Tea Party people from Delaware get to be on the front of the New York Times.  Mission Accomplished – you matter.  These candidates have managed to to turn blacks, Democrats, immigrants and Muslims into “them.”  And that is saying something considering Rick Lazio lost, despite making opposition to the Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero his signature campaign issue.  Perhaps he simply did not want the mosque located there, whereas Tea Party voters felt more sure that Paladino actually hated Muslims.

Haha - cause he and his Harvard educated wife are black so it makes sense to parody them as a pimp and a prostitute. Paraphrasing Malcolm X for the Tea Party - "What do you call a black man with a PhD. I'll tell you what you call him - a nig*er."

I just think America is too full of sh*t anymore.  There is a tremendous amount of racism still in this country’s fabric.  There is also an incredible amount of self-centeredness.  If Obama wants to keep Congress or at least the Senate he needs to get all his people that voted for him in 2008 (at least the ones that were not doing so to appear less racist to their peers, kids and grandkids for voting against a historic candidate) he needs to make it about US (i.e. You and ME).  We are the country that stops buying SUVs and clamors for energy independence when gas is high and then, in an almost seasonal and satirical shift – we immediately start buying SUVs when gas prices lower.  From the angry to the apathetic the majority of this country (comprised of all political stripes) just care about themselves.  Both sides of the country, left and right want to matter more than they actually do.   But we are only moved to political action when it appears that we can win (and winning does not mean winning the election – winning means mattering).  Obama voters felt like they mattered in 2008 (I remember reading posts on Facebook on Election Day from people who I knew to be politically apathetic – “Bye bye Bush – get out there and vote everybody!” – those would have actually mattered a lot more in 2004 dummies) and Tea Party members feel like it is their time to matter. 

Whichever side you are on – I think we are all fu*ked.  And to paraphrase Obama, we are the ones we have been waiting to blame.  The Internet, 24 Hour politicized “news” and our decreasing attention spans are going to bury America in an interminable, political trench war.  I think America is becoming a place where the average person (i.e. obviously the people who vote in primaries are more politically involved than the average person – and yes I know people are registering more and more as independents, which fits my theory – everyone wants to be that critical swing vote in a meaningful election) don’t care about issues or candidates or America.  They care about themselves and they care about mattering.  The average voter is no different than Kim Kardashian or The Situation. They’re just uglier.

This guy embodies America more than any issue, cause or principle. And I don't think it'll get any better.