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Friday, December 30, 2011

Nutty Comments From People I Like By Varying Degrees

And never enough cashews...

There is a Youtube video featuring Tina Fey called "Ham Monologue." During an Improv show, Amy Poehler asks the Black Box audience to say any word and Fey would riff on it...

"Ham!" The audience member called.

First Fey talks about the meat product, its use in an unfortunate salad bearing its name, etc. Then, she discusses the other kind of ham; the guy who has to take center stage, mugging and overplaying everything. 

She scoffs at the kids back in school who hammed it up.

"They'd say about him, 'Oh, he's such a performer...'...And I've just never been that type of person...I never believe in performing for people who weren't asking for it."

There: F'n nuts.

For the record, those are some of the best, most pure and funniest moments I've witnessed in my life; the moments I "wasn't asking for." And I think the majority of the people who witnessed them felt the same way.

What happened to Fey as a child? One too many kids squeeze an armpit fart out in the middle of her Flute Solo?

What does she want, the voice of only the SAG eligible?

In fifth grade, during a history review, the teacher asked the class if anyone knew what explorer set out for The Fountain of Youth:

"My Grandmother!" My buddy called out, "She wears a mask of the stuff every night before bed!"

Funny as hell, I thought. Delightful. Made my ten year old day. And guess what? I didn't ask for it.

Fey's position, especially as a comedy writer, is like a Soul Singer whining "I was never big on that singing in church it for Community Auditions."

Fey's reasoning is surprisingly backward for a person with normally keen insights...or kinda keen, I guess.

She has a disdain for the Class Clown, whose death is to the detriment of the comedy business...

In the video, look around at Fey's fellow players: they look as if they used to apologize to the Substitute Teacher for the unruly behavior of their classmates.

Man, I miss the Class Clown. Who knew the Apple-shiners in the front row were planning a takeover?


Louis CK has a bit where he trashes his daughter for complaining about taking Bubble Gum-flavored cough syrup.

"White people...Rich...spoiled" He says somewhere in a tirade about those who should be thankful they're not "eaten by bears."

For one thing, I just came from a convenience store which people of color frequent, and to the right of the register is a wall of single-pack flavored cough suppressants, flu medicine, etc. Most were seventy-five cents.

 Is he trying to say that the over-the-counter drug industry has been kept out of reach of poor minorities? Ridiculous.

But more importantly: It's a child.

You could be saving a child from drowning and they will claw your face like a cat. It's their instinct to dislike.

Raising a child, making  use of anything that makes it easier, is not "spoiling."

For God's Sake, this is a guy whose TV show illuminates how difficult raising a child can be, despite the love and efforts and luxuries one possesses.

Spend some time around children who "aren't spoiled" and you will see that it's not from a lack of yummy-flavored cough medicine, but an evasion of the challenges he understates.

Come on, Louie.


David Mamet said in an interview with Playboy that he didn't believe in TV watching as a worthwhile exercise for children.

What did the Pulitzer Prize-winner, sensational theorist/essayist and definitely the nicest celebrity I've ever met suggest instead?

"Woodworking." Yes, he also meant "anything", but woodworking?

Okay, here's a self-described "besotted movie lover" who has made a fine living and reputation, become an outstanding learned man, through the dissection, analysis and recreation of film and TV.

It's certainly proven a worthwhile exercise for him?

I get the violence, sex and just plain bad material, but was he as a child exempt from those possibilities?

And before we say "hypocrite", let us just dismiss it to wackiness very busy and successful people tend to spew occasionally.

Hanging in my shower is a garish blow-up kiddie tubby, covered with cartoon fish, octopi and lobsters playing instruments, waiting to be filled.

It's not consistent with the color scheme and our drapes, I assure you. It smells like Wal-Mart, also. Just an attack on our senses.

But after dinner time, it's the place to be. Splashing. Singing.

"Time to get out..." I say.
"In! In!" Is the protest.

Mamet, as the artist, is concerned that society will swallow the individuality of the child. As a parent, I'm worried that I will pass on my hang-ups or she will like Brecht just because I do.

"Doesn't interact well with others..."

Holy shit!

There'll be time for Brecht, if she chooses, but there's something to a childhood of moderate TV and other silly stuff.

I've given Mamet's books on Art- "True and False," "Three Uses of the Knife" and "Writing in Restaurants"- to friends as a grassroots effort to get the world thinking with such clarity.

I've been very frustrated that more weren't reading them.

This comment, perhaps the singular such one by Mamet, offers me the rare occasion to be thankful that not everyone puts the same stock I do into what he says.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reading, Rejection and The Blog

A Finer Way To Hook Your Readers, You Will Not Find

According to his biographers, LBJ took counsel while sitting on the toilet.

Evidently, President Johnson was a multi-tasker. And this long before the term and notion became a necessity or virtue, depending upon how you look at it.

Or: Perhaps this was where he felt he listened best to the ideas and ruminations of others. Lyndon would not have been alone in this. In fact, there are many who can't get the most of the relief without it:

I recall my father complaining one morning about the state of affairs in my house before disappearing into the commode where he continued his rant behind the closed door.

"...And Goddamn! There's nothing to read in here!" He yelled.

To the writer, this is a golden moment...someone craves something to read? -- here's a manuscript, my good man!

Sure, part of the President's taking meetings while he crapped was to let Mr. Smarty Pants know that his Harvard-educated notions could be flushed, or that while for the moment he was deferential to counsel, he was also deferential to the passing of last night's meatloaf. But... an audience is an audience...

And anyone who has had a meeting with a production team, who has put aside a generous half-hour to rip apart your six months of work on a script with "I get it" or "heard it," knows that having someone's full and undivided attention comes at an enormously steep price.

Getting someone between flights, waiting for the doctor, sitting while they have a little taken off the top or when they need a moment away from TPS reports is the way to go.

Jeff Goldblum's character in "The Big Chill" says that the only editorial parameters set for writers at his hipster magazine are that "you are not allowed to write any piece longer than the average person can read during the average crap."

"Tolstoy can be read on the toilet." One of the mourners replies.

"Yes, but they can't finish it." Goldblum shoots back.

Ah! Short (or short enough), self-contained pieces? An easily accessed catalogue of ramblings on every subject? Reading that doesn't require sifting through indexes and magazine racks but can be recalled with a title, line or subject?

Technology and the blog has given us the Utopia of readers reading and writers giving the people what they want.


At one time, the best a writer could hope for with a script or several finished chapters was that it could get in the hands of "someone."

What exactly were those undefined wishes? God knows or, rather,  I'd be too embarrassed to admit: A casual voice I don't recognize, slightly blurred with the surf and hum of the PCH, with a 310 area code introduces himself and says "Really good..." and that my voice "needs to be heard" (trust me, I just cringed, too; it's okay).

And when it wasn't the mysterious benefactor, it is the friend-of-a-friend, cousin of a co-worker, Godson of a neighbor who went to law school with so-and-so who worked directly with __________ (Popular and Successful Person). But before they got your script to the Big Guy, they were going to have an underling -- someone of taste and in-the-know -- who sees if it's quality is at least worth looking at.

You are told to give the guy a couple of weeks to "get to it." You send out the script in a manilla envelope with a handwritten cover letter -- "Hey Jim, Thanks for taking a look at it. And we'll have to grab that beer. - P"

Was that too casual? Did it lack something, like a joke? 

You seal it and send it out with two hopes...

One: That two weeks goes by in what seems like a catnap. Two: That Jim never call you on that beer unless it is to speak glowingly about your work (otherwise, your prospective drinking buddy can spontaneously combust for all you care).

The wait for and the arrrival of the word is every bit as soothing as awaiting the results of a home kit early pregnancy test. Either angle you were coming from, should you have been so lucky to experience it, it sucked:

- One line was negative
- Two was positive
- No lines was invalid test and $9.99 down the drain

Hearing the notes on your work that was mailed out is, no matter where you come from, always the worst of all possible outcomes: it's invalid to those who spent their last buck on it; Positive to the 17-year-old, Negative to the 38-year-old praying for a miracle. And it's a dose of the clap for good measure.

With the emergence of the Internet and personal websites years back, you might have gotten story on here and there. But the process of spreading the word (business card, cocktail napkin, friends who stop by to mock your opening line "'This all could've been avoided.' That's trite."), there was never that pay-off you hoped for.

And what was the pay-off? I guess the unspoken one is money. Maybe an unforeseen position with a company needing your talents.

But what would that get? An apartment? A condo? A better job?

But I have a place and a good enough job?

What is it then? What made you want to write this thing?

Maybe it was back in fifth grade when you wrote a song parody of The Beatles' "Help" from the perspective of Lewis and Clark to Sacajawea and they laughed. Yes. That was good. And weird and it touched something that has to have meaning.

Man, you want to do that every day or often enough, ya know?

It didn't get you money (not even a few extra tater tots!). And all the subsequent attempts didn't get you laid (God knows).

But you got a laugh here and there. And sometimes you didn't. Sometimes, like that unscripted play in fourth grade, it fell flat. Still, wow, you'll take those odds, and move on.

So, all you want is to get it out there, something that doesn't cost- money for postage or picking up the tab out of gratitude. Maybe a chuckle here, a comment there or a "like" on Facebook.

You like it? Don't?

Fine, it's gone. Or as Bukowski wrote, "I'm already on the next line."


Arturo Bandini, the John Fante hero of Ask The Dust and others, sends an angry rant of a letter to a publication that has rejected his work.

It returns with a check and a letter from the editor telling Arturo that he'd trimmed the fat off the rant, kept what he liked -- what was good -- and informed the young writer that it would be published.

That is a struggling writer's dream: Don't worry about editing, we got it; Just you being you, is good enough; and acceptance letters dropping from the skies above. More, it declared the existence of anonymous readership who "got" him.

With the exception of the check, the blogger has the good fortune of Bandini: readers stopping in at all hours of the day; happening onto to the site from all around the world, frequently by accident. The reader skims the titles, falls into one and likes it. The fat is naturally trimmed and the writer has gone on, oblivious to the edits and discards and maybe even those "getting him," but he or she sees the "hits" and that's good enough.

That's success according to Fante and so many others.

When receiving notes on a work, the writer often hears from the reader "You lost me here..."

Well, yes, I guess...notwithstanding being lazily unclear, it happens that you lose people; I've never read a novel that didn't do that to me. But unlike the published novel that must be accepted as "it is what it is" and the reader's burden to understand, the unpublished piece must answer for any moment that is unclear.

With the blog, it is what it is. It's there. Within minutes, you have readers; and not those who need to tracked down and haunted.

 Maybe you edit or pull it, but it's there, and, if you're busy enough, it'll get buried in your next posts...

And you're on the next line.

A pretty good place to be.


Anderson Cooper and his show took part in a study examining cell phones for traces of fecal matter.

Cooper, whose antiseptic mien bleeds good grooming, discovered his own phone carried feces.

Poorly washed hands, yes. But also, people simply conducting more business from the toilet. They carry their IPhones and Androids with them to do their thing.

In between calls, they search the 'net as the average American does more than twenty times per day, pumping traffic to all sorts of sites and blogs.

Blog traffic!!!

Maybe a bad thing for hygiene, but a great push for the dirty business of writing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Mixed-Blessing Of Memory

Sure You Do

I have a good memory. Okay, better than good. All right,  Let me say outright: it's pretty damn good.
Not that I am boasting or anything. And no,  I don't feel endowed with a "specialness" or that I've been stamped by the creator to be recognized by those looking for the chosen one.

It's a quirky trait not unlike sweating a lot. In fact, and ironically, I am a phenomenal sweater, too: During a typical two hour college wrestling practice, I normally lost about twelve pounds, and once, at a tournament, I lost seven pounds in less than an hour to make weight.

Aside from the ephemeral asset to wrestling  or maybe a natural cleansing of my pores, the propensity to sweat a lot really sucks. When I was younger, I sweated profusely only when working out. Now, even on a cold February morning, I am mindful when I get up from seats to make that I have not left a puddle. 

I am no more inclined to boast about my memory than I am my overactive sweat glands. And don't get me wrong, I can see the benefits of it. Perhaps it is sacrilege to toss away one's blessings, but a good memory can be an unwieldy thing; one as socially cumbersome as the onset of a sweating attack in a tuxedo as I usher guests to their seats.

On the bright side,  having a good memory affords me the opportunity to say for this piece: "Not for nothing...", as in: Not for nothing, I have a good memory, bro.

I've always wanted to say that.

"A good memory is a gift," someone once said.

Yeah well, next time I want socks.


When I was 15, I worked in the ticket booth at an amusement park Water Slide. Every day wallets, watches and IDs were found and were then housed in the small booth's lost-and-found. In between ticket sales, I would sift through the IDs that were bundled and rubber-banded.

Around Christmastime that subsequent winter, my father was telling me about a former student who had visited from college. He had a complicated Vietnamese name (H sounding like a W, and ao like ow) and not familiar with such names or never seeing it written on a paper assignment or anything, it took a moment:

"Do you spell that...?" I asked.
"Yes." My father answered.
"He lives at 18 Booth Street in Dorchester." I told him.
"Well, I know he lives in Dorchester..." He replied, going to the cabinet and pulling down the yearbook.

That was his address. And the photo, not unlike the unsmiling one of him before the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicle background I had seen over the summer, was definitely the same person.

And most of my great moments of memory are like that...and then, gone; along with some strange looks.

Of course, there are those moments at reunions and such where I've remembers names, dates, events, etc. and the person shakes their head.

And while it's had some social benefit, it's largely played out as a party game, not unlike a friend who had mastered reciting the fifty states in under five seconds- interesting...entertaining...but odd.

On one of my first forays into the party scene during my senior year of high school, my friends and I drove to a nearby college to hangout with a cousin during a football game.

Tailgating and tickled by the buzzed from a few beers, I approached some alumni football players. I recited back to a group their various statistics; one I recalled from the team program some five years earlier, his favorite movie- "Animal House" (though, one could have guessed that: I think "Animal House" was the favorite movie of most college linebackers in 1986).

" I like this kid." One of the giants said and patted my shoulder.

Yes! It's finally worked out ! The curse has brought me social acclaim and acceptance!

You see, like the Christopher Walken Sketch from SNL where his character has the foresight of the man in "The Dead Zone", but now only for petty and irrelevant things (" will buy a bag of will be very bitter..."), my memory seldom came to my rescue in areas where you most certainly would think it would, namely: school.

You would imagine that if I could recall the complete line-up, records, predictions and quotes from the local paper for 1982 wrestling match between Norwood and Dedham High Schools- teams I had nothing to do with- you'd think that in the three months we covered the Periodic Table in Chemistry, I could have recalled the atomic weight of a even a few of the elements?

A few of these formulas in geometry and algebra should make sense, right?

No: I was a not-so-solid C student.

Yes, memory is quite a different thing from analysis, but you'd hope that by the way I sorted the facts and could on cue employ them that with a little homework I'd have aced it...?

Ooops. Right there: little homework.

That's what was missing! But sit down and go over things? Is that what people do to get the finer points?  Man, I guess I'm no good at the finer points.

A friend once said that I was like Rain Man...except that I "never helped anyone win in poker or get laid".

But good news: Today, I can recall most every symbol from the periodic table when I play Trivial Pursuit.

Is it too late for me to get credit for that?


Countless movies depict a girlfriend opening a present from her side-burned, droop-eyed boyfriend as a success when she exclaims:

"You remembered!"

He was listening during her seemingly insignificant "I don't know why I'm telling you this..." moment and remembered that she loved  Bullseye caramels.

John Cusack remembers lines from Ione Skye's commencement address  and he's a dear.  I do the same and I'm a creep.

That said...

Some years back I was getting my haircut by a woman (and really there was no romantic motivation here) whose name I read off the Board Approved Certificate hanging on the wall struck me as familiar.

" Were you born on September 28th, 1974?" I asked.
She stopped clipping and looked me in the then, then at the certificate. Seeing that there was no mention of it, she asked: "How'd you know that?"

"Oh, I remember I had it in my police notebook...I used to be a cop and I went on a call to Bobby Fowler's house..."


"Oh man," I said, "That's...nine years ago...when I first got on."

My stylist excused herself and pulling one of her neighboring girlfriends away from a dye-job, proceeded to have a whispering session, wherein she said, I imagine: 1. Would it be bad if I left in the middle of this haircut? and 2. Should I call the cops?

Aside the point that it wasn't the most tactful thing to reference a decade-old domestic situation that was probably embarrassing and hurtful, what was I hoping to get from it? A pat on my should like from the football players?

(Incidentally, I don't think the football players outside of a tailgate party in their 20's want to be beholden to some stranger who remembers their freshman nickname; I don't think they want a buddy who does such things).

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, locking somebody in a cradle a la wrestling often doesn't get you any points, and it is not going to submit them. Simply: it's worth shit. But in wrestling, it's a sign of overpowering your opponent with mite and skill. Sometimes in the middle of training, tired, I can't help but take the open cradle even though it has no value in the current context...and I kinda look like an asshole.

Similarly, recalling the hairstylist's birthday was out-of-place. And the look of "you're creepy" might be well-deserved. Sure, as a woman who I know first-hand had at least one domestic altercation with a partner who remembers little of anything that hasn't occurred in the last five minutes, I want to say that creeps are like sharks- yes, the prospect of encountering one is overwhelmingly frightening, but the instances so rare.

Stick to worrying about your live-in boyfriend who is an out-and-out lunatic with NO MEMORY.

But how can I? If I was not in the moment and could ask something so stupid, how could I fault her for finding my question more like a cyber-stalker than a customer?

Another misuse of memory was when I bumped into playwright David Mamet and, as he examined a new model of BMW convertible parked outside a bakery, I approached him and though, he was not at all closed off, offered Ricky Roma's first line from "Glengarry Glen Ross":

"All train compartments smell vaguely of shit."

Mamet shrugged and deadpanned: "You're telling me." He then went on to tell me, a nobody in police pants on my way to work, about his current project- a Terence Rattigan play "The Winslow Boy", which he later adapted and made into a movie.

Here I am hoping to become a writer and meet one of my favorites who would have probably answered any question I had about the process or his project, and I'm gaped-mouth, smiling at my own clever recollection.

What I wanted at that time, honestly, was to be thought special: I wanted, in a moment of fantasy, for Mamet, not only to like me, invite me out for a beer to talk shop, but I wanted him to bestow his greatness on me by virtue of my specialness and hand me a Pulitzer Prize for Special Identity.

Like a friend who upon meeting a famous film actor grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels and a took a gulletless ten-second swig.

Is that what the nameless do, we show off our eccentric talents like it's Community Auditons

And besides these moments that evoke latent shivers of embarrassment, memory has not always made me the most pleasant be or be around.

With no science background (RE: Supra; "C" in Chemistry), I can only speculate that the endorphins that the body normally produces for the average person when they experience a trauma also, like percocet, make the mind a little dull and thus, forgetful.

Good news: They forget the bad and traumatic.

Perhaps those with great memories lack such endorphins and they not only remember the incident vividly but experience the pain of it, as well.

"How can one forgive when still writhing in pain," the Theologian asked. And yes: How can you forgive when you remember the decades old transgression like it was yesterday?

As for others...

And you know, sometimes those who don't quite recall their childhood nicknames or where you last saw them (maybe their guest that night is now an ex, and the incident a "dark moment"), are doing it with some deliberation; moving on is the best course...

Being a walking photo album and scrapbook is not always endearing...

I appreciate a photo album as much as the next guy, but I clearly don't want photos that make me look fat or remind me that I looked like a girl in fifth grade. I'm sure others have the same standards with what they choose to recall.

By asserting what I remember of their life, I am dictating the pages of their albums.


Schools have done their damnedest to hammer home how unimportant remembering anything is...especially, in the inner-city.

In the process of everyone coming together as a village to raise a child, it's clear that some information is best learned at home, e.g.,  your address.

Of a sample of 120 8th graders at a Boston Public School, almost half could not pass the "envelope test":  What goes on the outside of envelope to your house?

-Your mother and/or father's name
-Street, House Number, Unit number
-Zip Code

In defense of an educational approach that discourages "rote" memory, educators claim to foster "deeper thinking and questioning."

I find it ponderous that educated people could believe that a child with no interest in  (and a capacity to block out the meaningfulness of) that number on the place where they live will be "intellectually curious."...Oh yeah, and for those of you gathering air to say "But Einstein couldn't ride a bike or perform menial tasks": Shove it up your ass.

During an eighth grader's presentation on The Constitution, where they spoke of "Freedom of Speech", I asked: "What amendment is that?"

I was chided by a colleague for emphasizing memory, "They can look that up later," She firmly told me.

You mean a student who is encouraged to not ask what amendment Freedom is Speech is during an assignment entitled "The Amendments" will take time out from playing "Call of Duty IV" to google Freedom of Speech?

The fear of urban educators could be well-intentioned: Rote memory will create robots with no independent thought.

Doug Bruce, the subject of the 2003 documentary "Unknown White Male" provided a different view of memory.

Bruce, who suddenly finds himself (or is found) on a NYC subway with no recollection of who he is or where he lives or, for that matter, anything, attempts to piece together his life and relationship after being hit with retrograde amnesia.

Bruce, who was in 30's, had retired from a very successful career in finance, and pursue, again, with great success, a career as a photographer.

His amnesia had impacted a part of his long-term memory. Memory is broken down into three types: Short term ( ex: a present conversation), Sensory (ex: sounds and smells; hot and cold items) and Long term. And from that long term memory are three parts: Semantic ( ex:the president's name, word meanings), Procedural (ex:How to ride a bike or perform tasks) and episodic (ex:Your high school prom).

Bruce's amnesia impacted his episodic long-term memory alone. He quickly regained his skills working a camera and analyzing the market, but couldn't recall any event from his life.

According to the thinking of many educators, this is no great loss to the person. One's skill-set and their education is their person.

Bruce's family feels differently. His humor has changed, they say. He's a different emotional animal. He doesn't have the same interpersonal effects or momentary values. And at times, he seems to have a robotic way about him.

This observation suggests that it is important to make mental note and remember things as they happen. Bruce has been informed of his history- from most minute detail- and yet, they don't register the same way; they're not emotional, but historical. One recalling how they got a scar on their elbow, rather than being told how they got  it, will be a more textured emotional being.

If the concern be not turning us into robots, educators need to consider the damage done to those, even the well-educated or "highly skilled", with no interest in or memory of their experiences.


As evidenced by their hilarious distortion of their pasts, the rich and famous don't appreciate that which suggests they were anything else than ultra-achieving super- beings we all know them to be.

Sean "Puffy" Combs insists that he was champion in the 100 meter dash on the indoor track team in high school. An interviewer informed Combs that High School Indoor Track has no 100 Meter Dash, just a 55 meter.

Combs joked that he was so fast he chose to run the extra forty-five meters and still won.

Truth be told, I wish I had a little more of that: the ability to strike out and forget about it before he sat back down on the bench.

The problem with an unshakeable memory is that it puts faith only in what has happened. Not just the memory itself, but it's ramifications echo in the current and, unfortunately, the future.

A philosopher once wrote that " A man who can't forget will never amount to anything."

Thankfully, I can't remember who the hell that was.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Don't Buy The Emmy Solidarity

"And Cut! ...Let's Try This One More Time!"

I'm sure I'm not the first, and actually, I really hope I'm not the only:

I call bullshit.

Sure there's a lot of that on TV and everywhere, but enough is enough: When the most ambitious people on Earth put on a front that they are not, that's is simply PR and somebody has to say something before this takes even a greater psychic toll than it already has.

In fact, as a friend recently pointed out, the main job of PR is to make very ambitious types look less ambitious: To take the burgeoning starlet who gave favors (of all degrees) to bring producers and others to their showcases while struggling in oblivion, and make them seem on the Letterman couch that they'd rather be with the girls back in high school.

 "Oh, this Hollywood thing..."

The only truth that can gleaned from the moment is that some of the ladies on stage wanted to share the moment with the winner.


Martha Plimpton is said to have spread the word via Twitter. "Amy has an idea..." From there, they decided to do it.

So which is it? A brilliant moment of inspiration or a rehearsed bit?

 Being an awards show, where writers stand backstage scribbling jokes and moments later are sputtered by host, this twittering is only a degree less coordinated than the dance numbers.

I have seen less choreographed Wrestlemanias.

And the shot when Poehler stood up? Where was the camera, in Will Arnett's bow-tie?

Where did that tiara come from? How did that pageant theme evolve from such a moment of a spontaneity?

I believe one actress can have a moment of inspiration. I even believe two actresses can talk about doing something for years and at the moment they say "fuck it" and do it.

I don't believe six actresses nominated for the same Emmy category without the intervention of God or even Oprah could agree on the same wine for the sangria never mind this bit.

If it be inspiration, then do it, but don't pass off a staged event as something other than that. Why is Martha Plimpton twittering about the "idea" again, (I can't resist), this is more preparation than most TV shows put into the series finale?

They twittered each other, yes, but you better believe that they called their agents, their PR person and the producers of the show to make sure that this wouldn't be construed as anything but positive.

Had Poehler gone up and stayed on stage by herself, putting herself out there to be judged by some as "stealing the winner's thunder" or "weird" or as a performer "Okay, that bit went on too much"; if she and the other brilliant ladies of solidarity, had individually made a statement a la Jim Carrey- he lampoons the event, his fellow nominees like Nick Nolte grit their teeth or feign an approving laugh- then join the chorus of "brilliant!"

But this is only a shade less severe and manipulative than someone going up to the podium and saying "We're all winners...Women of comedy unite!" and calling them all on stage to hold hands.

This is marketing for these individuals' future films and shows and award nominations.


And when people call upon PR what does that say about their cause?

If they think Emmys are bullshit, then insist by contract that the networks never mention the nominations when advertising the show; insist when giving a commencement address that the College Dean not call them "three-time Emmy nominee."

And what does it say about comediennes who would hold hands with the others? They love "Mike and Molly"?  Whatever happened to shitting on each other and mocking their work but privately love it? What has now emerged is " I love this woman, my peer..."...but (behind a hand) "her show sucks."

"But it's about supporting other women..."

Yes, five other women. The 3.1 billion others, I think, like everyone else is no better because of this display of horseshit...

Make the scripted look spontaneous, the insincere as austere and rivalry as solidarity.

Ah, TV...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Most, If Not All, Is Better At 40

Kitschy and True
"Pay no attention those who come flying out of the gates after college and grad school...If your intentions are true and you work, in your 40's it will pay off in spiritual gold."- Camille Paglia


You gotta wonder about an age in life where being an asshole is generally regarded as an asset.

Yes, there are plenty of 40 and 50 year olds who pride themselves on being a son-of-a-bitch. But clearly we understand that it's probably about erectile dysfunction.

20 and 30 year olds earn their stripes by being "no nonsense." Or "nipping things in the bud." It's great to be respected by the other copywriters, but making a point of "not taking shit from anyone", we know, doesn't make for happy times.

Frankly, I say: more nonsense. A little excess in the 20's and 30's- no nipping anything.

You play your cards right and you can have it all at both 20 and 40.

A few thoughts of what is better at 40...

At 50, you're on your own.


There was that time in our thirties where we went back to gym and hopped on the stationary bike for 40 then 50 and then 90 minutes. We did the circuit of weights, twice. High reps.

We went in the locker room, peeled off the sweaty clothes and said "Yah!" when we had lost four pounds! Then, we lost twenty! We got in shape for summer. And then, the next winter we looked in the mirror after a shower and nearly cried at the sight.

"Why does this happen? I work and work and work; I put in so many hours and it just doesn't come off?"

You look through the Adidas Shoe Box at the polaroids of you flexing after a set of curls, or with your girlfriends in your first bikini and sigh: "Ah, I guess I'm not sixteen anymore..."

No, you're not. But unlearn all the crap from the past twenty-some years and go back to basics.

First off: Don't do any workout that could (or should) be done reading Redbook.

What sixteen year old does an hour and a half at fifty percent on the stairmaster?  You didn't have time for  two and half hours of leisurely, low-intensity peddling; you were getting picked up in fifteen minutes, so you did a quick hundred push-up, sprayed yourself with Polo and were out the door.

That black and white instructional poster that came with weight set had it right.

Personal Trainers who specialize in workouts for 40 and up, say: Powerlifts- bench, squat, clean and jerk.

And not light, either. Heavy is better.

And not high reps. 5 sets of 5.

And if lifting's not your thing, sprint work.

It's said the perfect workout for building muscle in 40 (and up) year olds is: 8 30-second sprints with two minute breaks in-between. So: Sprint half the high school track, and then walk a lap. 8 times. Three days a week.

Like the hundred push-ups, or the workout with the thigh-master, it takes about twenty minutes.

It works at 40 because the energy spent in muscle recruitment for the explosion and then in the healing of the ripped muscle, coupled with the calories expended on the natural changes in your body (just like the changes at 16), burns fat and leaves you with lean muscle.

You ate. You drank. And because you hit it hard for a short period, you stayed lean and got muscular. Draining that testosterone doing low-intensity marathon workout is just masochistic. And it doesn't work as well as the twenty minute workout.

You might be more capable of having that 16 year old body at 42 than you think.


I find myself getting choked up at least twice a morning while I scan the radio on my way to work. It happened today with "Lido Shuffle": Man, what was my problem with Boz Scaggs? His name? A silly album cover? The fact my somewhat faggy seventh grade music teacher in between playing "Hot Cross Buns" on the recorder professed to love him?

And didn't I catch myself not so long ago joining Joe Jackson in lamenting "Always somethin' breakin' us in two"? I knew back then that "Look Sharp" was one of the finest albums of the time, but Mr. Jackson had to pay because he'd provided the score for the douchey guy with the moppy hair and zipper jacket to make out with my crush at the high school dance.

And you know, so what if their fan base sat on hoods of cars and picked fights in the high school lot, Van Halen, I realize, is much more than just muscle music.

This comes with living a bit: Being a teacher myself that students might find somewhat faggy and worthy of occasional mockery (inside sources told me I'm called "Lighthouse" because of a small bright bald patch on the rear of my head);  myself being a moppy haired douche who took a make-out session or two for granted on several occasions; living through several more heartbreaks; and spending a good portion of my late teen's and twenties, working towards the hood-of-the-car-muscle-thing, I am more accepting; I can look beyond the petty differences and finally, at 40, enjoy the music for what it is.

I hate no one anymore.

Well, actually, I gotta say I tried with Deadheads. Sorry. But I was driving the PCH a while back and some dick in a jeep blaring a live "Sugar Magnolia" ruined it. He looked like the over-privileged assholes from towns like Wellesley who always liked it and were in denial of how rich they are; who, like the kids from Beverly Hills 90210, call their friends' parents by their first name. I don't care that the cover of "Women Are Smarter" rocks, I'll get my fix from Harry Belafonte's version...

Yes: It's better at 40 because you can contradict yourself in the same sub-section and roll out of it with but a simple justification:

At 40, you are more accepting but have keener eye and stronger intolerance for what was always bullshit.


At 33, drinking and dropping your pants at your 15th high school reunion is generally met with: " Oh God, that is getting soooo old...hasn't he grown up" and "It's so least at 20 it was something worth looking at."

But, put that bit aside for nearly a decade, and then resurrect it at the 25th and it's "He's an F'n riot!" "Oh man, still crazy after all these years...!" and "It's so good to be around somebody who still wants to have a good time!"

With balance (and some genetic luck), the drink won't have a grip on you. And when it's due time to be  a pant-dropping buffoon, you'll be able to summon that part of you to yours and everyone else's delight.


Less is more.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dear Beer:

And I have nothing to cry in...


Okay. Yeah, this is kinda weird...

I take it from you not accepting my "friend request" that you are pissed.

I don't blame you.

I left in a hurry. As I so often did, I had my way with you all night and then, in the morning, pretended that I didn't know you.

"You had your share of beer last night?" My wife would ask.
"Not really." I'd scoff...Only to return to you the next afternoon, slobbering with need.

I wanted to explain my departure but I knew that If I saw you, if I approached you, I would've wanted to have you, and then, we wouldn't have been able to keep our hands off each other. If I didn't just close the door on us, I never would've left.

Let me say, that in all the years I was with you, I was true. Know that. Other than a few youthful mistakes with Jaegermeister and Jell-O Shots, I was yours and yours alone. Once even, in the midst of a crazy night with you on Hampton Beach, so in love I was, that I almost had you tattooed on my bicep- looking all sexy with a foamy head in a frosty mug.

I gave myself to you fully...

I could be up with you until three in the morning, exhausting myself in your thrills before I would fall helplessly to sleep on the mattress, only to wake the next day and by two in the afternoon be longing to see you again.

The first time I met you it was seventh grade, one of my older brother's friends introduced us, you were with him, I remember, but he let me sip you and instantly...I had to have you.

When he went to the bathroom, I took you from under his chair and poured you in a cup and ran outside.  We hit it off right away. I finished you right there.

"Where's my fuckin' beer?" I heard the friend say from inside the house, but we just giggled with laughter.

"He's always so angry." You said, "I just want a guy who's fun and happy."
" I can guy that be." I tipsily spoonerized. And we broke down again in laughter. (Remember the early days? We laughed all the time.)
"When can I see you again?" I asked.
"I'll always be here..." You said. And you were.

Holidays. Hook-ups. Break-ups. Wakes. Weddings. Wednesdays.

I could take you to the fanciest restaurants or the  diviest dives. All that mattered was that we were together.

We spent so much time together that my friends could hear your influence in the way I talked...

"That's the beer talking!" They'd say.
"No, it's not!" I'd protest. But I knew. It's not that I wasn't proud of you, it's just... when people see your love, you get scared.

I know it's been twenty months and I'm sure you've moved on and found plenty of others ( I was always so jealous of how others saw you..."Let's have another beer..." How dare they? I wanted you all to myself), so you don't care...but our relationship took a toll on me, too.

I gave. Did you see me out running to the gym every night? No, I was with you. Did I push you out for a glass of wine and salmon dinner  with a side of broccoli? No. Why? Because you didn't get along with them!

I gobbled wings and chinese food and pizza, because they were your friends!

But where was I? I was dwindling away and in my place was a bloated, incontinent goat who belched and farted and, to embarrassing effect, failed to clear the google search history.

He took my phone and called all my friends telling them what he didn't like about them;  he even reached out to distant, short-lived acquaintances making strange requests at odd hours, getting me in near- fights with angered boyfriends and brothers.

Every few years you rendered my wardrobe obsolete. You lingered with me for mornings, hovering between my fellow passenger on the train and me. "You want a piece of gum? How 'bout a mint?" I heard more times than can be recalled. But I just thought they were being friendly! That's how much control you had over me...the denial.

Am I to blame? Sure! Could I enjoy you with other people? Did I not steal you away?

 Oh, I tried: happy hour I'd be everybody's buddy, but by last call, I was yanking you all over the bar, telling everybody that I owned you.

"Don't even think of taking that fuckin' beer, bouncer's mine!"

But that's you! That's me! That's us!

Somebody once said to me "You always have a beer in your hand." I smiled and took you right to my lips. Remember? I realize now that they didn't mean it in a good way...

Sure there were lots of good times with you, beer. But when the bad times started outnumbering those good ones, I had to look at the truth of our relationship.

I'm sure I lost my virginity when I did because of you. But I also blew the opportunity with at least a half-dozen others because you made your presence known. ("Is there something the matter?" echoes in my head).

Yes, you made me more charming than I was so many times. But you also confiscated my filter to the displeasure of dinner party guests, elderly relatives and foreigners.

Ok, and I'm thankful that you gave me the courage to face men who in sober daylight I'd think twice of tangling with... but at the expense of my coordination? ("Owww!")

And while you showed me an exhilarating night here and there, you'd keep me from the light of day the next morning.

In the end, is that love? Or is it just insatiable lust?

Bonnie and Clyde. George and Martha. Scott and Zelda. Paul and Beer.

Complicated and sad.

I'm angry for the hurt you caused, but I do miss you.

Sometimes I'll be watching an old movie and I'll see Steve McQueen hoisting you; you in your sixties brown bottle with indistinguishable label and I'll reach for the screen.

Why can't I be like McQueen and sip the thing? And then I get the answer in the following love scene:  McQueen taking his time, kissing Faye Dunaway passionately and cleanly. Had that been me with Faye,  five seconds into that beautifully cinematic kiss, I'd be dry-humping her leg.

So, when I say: It's me, not you. Believe me, it's me, not you. You are who you are. You're meant for those people who can enjoy for an hour after softball or those can hang out with you as they coil the lines and scrape the barnacles off the 24-footer.

Enjoy your intricacies.

Me? I'm a glutton. Always have been: As a kid at Easter,  I would shove an entire row of marshmallow peeps in my mouth out fear that my brother would pull off one of the confectionary chicks for himself.

So, it's good bye. Maybe I'll see you again when I'm 70 or so, and I limp into the local VFW.

And "We talked about the 'ol times and we drank ourself some beers..."

Sounds good.

But for now, let's live.



Saturday, August 13, 2011

How To Win A Fight

Winner and still champion...

It's been a little while, I know...

Maybe it was the last time you got cut off in traffic. Or maybe it was at your wife's high school reunion and that guy made that comment in the men's room, not knowing you were in the next stall. Or when you were having drinks at the local with your neighbor, and that drunk douchebag asked if you two just got "back from Brokeback Mountain."

Or maybe it hasn't been since the high school dance and, buzzed from your first beers, you wanted to punch the denim off the kid with the Ozzy Patch who bumped into you every day in the halls.

Whatever it was, you've thought about fighting; you've thought what you would do or you've wished what you could do should the opportunity ever present itself.

With the UFC and the emergence of MMA schools everywhere, it seems we've all gotten a little more mindful about the fight game.

I went to the ER recently for a staph infection and told the attending physician that I may have picked it up on a grappling mat. I was prepared to give an introduction to the basics of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, when he proceeded to tell me, as he made the incision and forced the drainage (Oww!) that he trained MMA, and we went into the 'ol "striking versus grappling" discussion.

That's the day we live in.

And with all this said, for all the TAPOUT shirts, and everyone picking up techniques from Youtube, that for all of this interest and devotion, do we know anymore about fighting?


If you do care about this fight stuff,  you are in good company...

Well, you are also in very bad company; in fact, maybe the worst company there is. But that might be obvious, and as the speakers at professional development seminars remind us with goofy illustrations: accentuate the positive.


Writers, statesmen, artists, politicians have long engaged and been fans of the fight game, folks.

Hemingway, Mamet, Fitzgerald, Joyce Carol Oates, London, Aimee Mann, Mailer and on.

Those who immortalize writers and their spirit might suggest that it's their inherent contempt for the status quo.

But writers, like fighters, like the rest of us, are most concerned with their own status quo. And it is the love-hate relationship with status quo that unites them.

Before he was published, Raymond Carver railed at the publications that rejected him; for whoever listened, he derided the editorial staffs and the work they did choose to publish.

When a story of his was finally accepted, he took the actual magazine out with him for a night of drinking in Iowa City and then home where slept with it.

Similarly, the unranked fighter trains for his upcoming bout with the #37 man in his weight class with an indignation for being slighted and belief that those who come up with such rankings are fools who don't know nothin'.

He wins and breaks the top 40 world rankings and now prepares for his next opponent who, how dare he think he can compete,...because he's unranked.

The struggle fighters have, like the struggle writers experience, might be a bit more extreme than anything the average person does, but we are all at heart ridiculous yearners longing for more and better.

Thank God there are those who give voice and legend to our despair.


There is something consummately democratic about the competitive fight: You are grouped by weight class, often by age or, and in the martial arts, by skill/belt level. The social fight, too, is democratic because the pauper can, and often does, outperform his rank and role in society.

That equality is something we like as Americans. It makes sense to us and when you see billionaires and celebrities ringside to watch a kid from a trailer park, it fulfills that American sense of justice and balance.

The duel with pistols had the same intention, to afford the offended a chance to stand up for their honor against a more able-bodied opponent; just because you were bigger and stronger, it didn't entitle you dishonor the smaller man.

But like rewarding for effort in the classroom proves to favor the teacher's bias even more so than a test, the duel system began to see offense only in that which offended the upper-class. You want to trash the man with no property or family? Have at it. As it would evolve in 18th century and on,  the duel system was regulated mainly to protect property owners and men of good name.

And as the duel came to favor the better pistol (that was also regulated), those who could afford finer, custom-made pistol were coming out standing as the lowly sank into the marsh.

And yes, some of the Founding Fathers and early men on import believed in the duel, there were some of rebellious spirit who despised it.

It is not totally accurate that President Andrew Jackson loved duels. The 'ol son-of-a-bitch, who upon entering the White House, brought along his kin and friends who damn near tore the place. Jackson, it seems, believed more in throwing down.

 I suppose Old Hickory, not a sentimental man, enjoyed dueling more than poetry or other soft sciences, but truth be told about the man who engaged in and won two duels: He'd much rather beat you with his fists.

In the latter of his two duels, Jackson's pistol misfired, and as was the rule, as if a faulty gun was a sign from above, he was to hold fire until his rival had his shot.

"Be damned!" Jackson exclaimed, firing again and killing the man.

Why should he be killed by a lesser man because a piece of machinery didn't work, he reasoned?  Shouldn't men settle matters with what God gave him alone?

As we moved away from the duel winner being chosen by "God's will", we began to look at those who toiled and built their muscles for the fight as better men.

Our love for fighting has since bloomed.


There are three different kinds of fights: There's the social/street fight. This has its origins as the after school fight at the tennis courts and later evolves into the bar fight that can occur well into your fifties.

Then, there's the competitive fight: boxing, mma, wrestling, judo, etc.

And, of course, and probably the least prevalent- meaning: of all the fights that exist, the competitive ones and the social ones make up the vast majority- and that is the survival fight.

Common questions about fighting are: Who wins a striker (boxer, muay thai) or a grappler (judo, wrestler, Brazilian jiu jitsu)? As it's well-known: Styles make fights. And those styles change as much within the discipline as between discipline...

Two of the most dominant middleweight college wrestlers of recent years were slick and funky, Darrion Caldwell of NC State, and a meat-and-potatoes hammer named Brent Metcalf of Iowa. When they met in the NCAA Finals, the clash of styles was so significant, it appeared as if they were in separate disciplines.

In an MMA fight, Caldwell and Metcalf would present entirely different problems for their opponents, and yet, there's the tendency to group them because they both happen to compete in the same sport.

The same could be said of Willie Pep (the evader) and Gene Fullmer (the bruiser) had they competed at the same weight class. Both hall-of-fame boxers, but night and day stylistically and temperamentally.

The question isn't what discipline wins, but who is practicing the discipline?

Yes, wrestlers, by and large, should win the takedown game. Boxers can end the fight almost imperceptibly. And in the scramble, the judoka or bjj guy can find a lockout or choke that puts the other guys to sleep.

And of temperament, wrestlers may share that "wrestler's intensity" or the BJJs might possess a characteristic calm, but approaches do vary, coaches have different philosophical leanings and the fighters also represent their region and personal make-up.

Who wins?

Only the most expert followers of the game know, and they are frequently wrong.

And this is in a controlled, officiated contest within a very strict system of rules and measures.

Can you imagine the possibilities in the no-rules brawl outside the local bar?


In the "Pine Barrens" episode of "The Sopranos," Christopher and Paulie pay a visit to a drunken Russian mobster, Valery, who owes the crew money. After suffering Paulie's indignities, he finally snaps when they break his universal remote.

He charges them like an aimless bull; big, but paunchy and ridiculous in pajama bottoms and rumpled t-shirt. Like the pros they are, Christopher and Mr. Walnuts subdue the bull and crack his windpipe. Believing they've killed him, they roll him in carpeting, toss him in Paulie's trunk and head for the wooded area near the state's central shore.

When they open the trunk upon arrival, their Russian friend has bitten through duct tape and is spitting violent Russian epithets. To learn him a lesson, the boys march him into the snowy woods at gunpoint and indicate a spot to commence digging his own grave.

As he notices Paulie and Christopher clad in their leather jackets, hunching their shoulders against the cold, Valery, still in alcoholic evening ware, pounds his chest, exclaiming in Russian:
"You think this bothers me...I wash my balls in ice water!"

Okay. I take you at your word.

Without the privilege of subtitles, Mr. Gaultieri and Moltisanti aren't as on guard as they should be and Valery seizes the opportunity at a moment's flinch and whacks them with a shovel and makes a sprint for the woods.

They shoot and either connecting with flesh or a patch of berries (poisonous, by the way) send a burst of red into the air. Had they hit him? If so, wouldn't he die off somewhere deep in the bush? he out there, stalking? And what kind of machine can endure a gunshot?

Well, evidently: A former Soviet Special Forces officer who killed  sixteen Chechen rebels, which was Valery had been before his descent into booze.

Within hours, Christopher and Paulie are delirious from hunger and cold. Approaching an absurd and certain death in an abandoned van, we ask how did they sink to this when earlier that day they had made relatively quick work of Valery and he, quite possibly, now is holed up in a cave, making a fire from frozen bark and subsisting on flora only a special forces officer trained in Siberia could identify.

They had overpowered Valery in the dank Fair Lawn apartment and were now, should he find them, at his mercy. How?

Christopher and Paulie had left the terrain where they are best, and had entered Valery's wheelhouse.

Just as Valery can make a weapon from a tree branch, or find cover in the hollow of a log and live on berries and squirrel dung, Chris and Paulie own the layout of an apartment: fireplace stokers, Humanitas plaques, lamps, belts and sashes, shoes and every other object not-tied down is a perfectly viable weapon.

Where others might be reticent of second-story windows, they are not. Where others' instincts shut them off when a fight breaks out inside a home, they let loose. And where others are fearful of what they might do to the other person as they could get sued or arrested, Chris and Paulie know that they have ways around that.

Mobsters are free of responsibility to anyone but themselves and their bosses; they have little fear, as that  has been subsumed in their blood oath

But in the frozen Pine Barrens, there is no one to bribe or inveigle. It is just the elements, and Valery, while oafish in the social interaction, he has worked out a nice deal with them, and once out of firing distance, he was taken into a world in which he was protected.

Such is the case with the street fight, the social fight: it is decided by terrain. Mental and physical terrain.

I met a former Marine from Texas. About 25, rugged and with the look of someone who'd done his share of scrapping. He had been in Boston a few months and had seen a bar fight:

" One dude hit another dude out of nowhere..." He said, incredulously.
"Yeah," I told him, "That's a 'sucker punch'. It's how all fights in bars start."
"Not where I'm from."

He went on to tell me that where he's from, when two guys want to fight, they go outside, take off their jackets and have at it. You try to take off your jacket, I told him, somebody is going to clock you in Boston.

"But what's that prove, hitting somebody like that?" He asked.
"It proves you're going to keep your teeth." I tell him.

In the city, there are just too many people, too many possibilities to play around in a competition game with fighting.

And this does not mean that Boston bar fighter is the best fighter...that's just his terrain.

Perhaps in a town outside Lubbock, Texas, he would be out of his realm and this young Marine would whoop him.

I am just offering this simple advice: If you are about to fight, know your terrain and stay in that. If you are not on your terrain, do everything you can to control the environment.


It's 1953 and a mother drags her eleven year old son to a Louisville boys' club to learn to box. He had his  bike stolen and wouldn't defend himself.

Under the tutelage of several coaches, the boy overcomes his reluctance and wins six amateur state titles and then, the 1960 Olympic Gold Medal in Rome, and finally, numerous world titles.

Muhammad Ali.

Little Ray Walker is living in depression era Detroit in the rough "Black Bottom" neighborhood. Concerned over their diminutive nephew's well-being, his uncles begin teaching him how to box. And while he immediately displays dancer-like footwork, he holds back on his punches.

Eager to get in the fight game, Ray took the identity of an elder friend and became Sugar Ray Robinson, Ring Magazine's Pound-for-Pound Greatest Fighter of All-Time (Incidentally, he got over his misgivings with punching: 108 career knockouts).

Bas Rutten, another early legend of mixed martial arts, suffered so much teasing because of a skin condition as a teenager, he took up karate to fend them off.

George St. Pierre, currently regarded as the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world, took up fighting as a way to combat the bullying he suffered at school.

And on and on...

Let's go back to the high school fight...

Kids load up cars and drive to a vacant lot on the other side of town. The two rivals get out and a circle forms around them. The first punches are thrown and the crowd, eager for blood and action, moves with the fighters, sometimes pushing them back into the action.

What brought them to the lot? A girl? An almost-fight in gym class? "Talking shit"? Whatever it was, it will soon be only a footnote to the ass-beating that is about to take place.

What is that the above world champions displayed from a young age that is lacking in the after-school brawlers?

Fear. Reticence. A dislike, even, for confrontation.

The teenager takes a swig of Jack Daniels from a bottle that the stuffed Chevy Nova he's riding in is sharing. He steps out of the car, gripping his fists and snarling to convince us that he's not afraid.

No need to convince us. I'm sure he's not.  But he should be. Anyone should be. Fear in this situation is a very good thing; it's part of the natural system. That fear is what fueled the fight in Ali and Robinson.

And he's going to put himself in a situation where he will invariably get hurt over something he now, walking to that circle, probably can't remember. (Believe me, ten seconds in, your unshakeable disdain vanishes and concern for surviving sets it).

"He's an asshole!" The kid insists. Okay. Then, let him go and be an asshole. Or, as Chazz Palminteri in "A Bronx Tale" tells C about the boy he wants to beat up because he owes twenty bucks "For twenty bucks you got him out of your life."

Sure, you get to hit the asshole. But he gets to hit you, too. And here, this may be very difficult to face: there are people out there with beliefs, tastes in music, friends, jobs, personal lives, ideologies, etc, that you would find despicable who can kick your ass.

Sorry, but it's true.

Fighting them is probably the worst way to combat what you don't like in them; if anything, when you do fight, a Stockholm Syndrome sort of thing occurs and you may even develop respect for them and acceptance of the lifestyle you find so despicable.

The seed of Robinson's fight interest was the evasion of being hit. By getting in that car and going to fight that kid, you are giving up the best opportunity there is to not being hit. Talent understands opportunity: dime yourself out to the cops, fake an injury, swear at a teacher and be kept after school, just don't get in the car.

If you can't appreciate on the macro how dumb it is to get in that moveable ring, then I'm convinced you will not understand the subtleties of slipping punches.

Bobbing and weaving is great, but finding a way to bow out of fight that you might be over (or under) matched for, that takes in no consideration for your physical condition (Man, you coulda just gotten over the flu), that's the stuff of champions.

"But he spilled a beer on me?!"

Sorry. But go into competitive fighting and after a few months when you understand what punching is about,  see if this potentially dangerous endeavor doesn't seem ridiculous.

Don't you want to win? Sure, you do! But what constitutes a win? Bloody nose? What if the other guy doesn't care? He goes down first? What if that's his style? Everyone there said you won? What if they don't (and they probably don't) know what the hell they're talking about?

Guys who get their asses kicked frequently don't accept that they got their ass kicked.

If you're looking for unanimous support, look elsewhere.

And then, go to law school. You win.


In 2007,  Massachusetts man,  Kevin McDonough was awakened in the early morning by a strange noise coming from his daughter's room. Waking his wife, Jeannie, they went next door, flipped the lights and looked in.

On their daughter's bed was a man holding a large hunting knife.

McDonough rushed the man, nine inches taller and almost a hundred pounds heavier, and got on top of the man's back in a choke hold. His wife held the man's knife hand as she called the police.

The man, they would find out, was Adam Leroy Lane, a trucker and serial killer who was soon connected to two murders and several attacks.

No betting man would take McDonough over Lane in a bar fight. Maybe not even in a competitive match.

Aside from Lane's significant size advantage, he was studied in attacks. McDonough, a relatively active fifty year old man, who works in construction, he had never been in a fight in his life.

"Just playing around stuff. Nothing real." McDonough said.

Joe Maffei, an early mixed martial arts competitor and coach and currently an expert in survival, he trains police department and various military outfits in elements of surviving attacks, wasn't totally surprised by the outcome.

"All things being equal," Maffei said of McDonough's situation, "I'd rather a guy who'd never been in a fight than some street brawler."

Why? Because street fighters, he said, make mistakes of ego: "They let their ego get in the way..."

As part of most dojo rules, martial artists are not allowed to use their skills "out in the street."

Not only is part of their sense of moral decency, but it's about karma.

As they say "How can you be prepared to defend your family if you would harm others' family?"

Tony Soprano begins having panic attacks when he sees a family of ducks walk around his pool. Dr. Melfi suggests that it is fear of taking care of them that has caused the anxiety.

"Mommy!" Cries mob wannabe, Matt Bevilaqua, as Tony and others fire shots into him.

Tony has anxiety of what can happen to his children because he knows the harm he has done to other people's children.

Maffei's studies, the case of Kevin McDonough, show that engaging in the social fight doesn't prepare you for that attack.

"It's amazing how well people with basic knowledge and respect can protect themselves." Maffei says. "And the best fighters I know, they walk away from trouble."

Brendan Behan wrote "The laughing boys are handiest in the skit," and reasoned, "It's not in a man's nature with sense of humor to be tricking with guns..." and if he is there must be something "wrong" with him. And you don't want to mess.


The popularity of mma, which incorporates all the bare-handed possibilities of the fighting arts, has changed the public's concept of fighting.

As a wrestler, I am so pleased that it has awakened the masses to my discipline and brought it so much respect.

Still, I don't believe that it is the ultimate deciding ground for who's the best fighter: It tells us who is the best competitor at the regulated sport that takes place in an octagon, cage or ring.

What fighting means to people engaged in endeavors we don't know about (special forces military, perhaps?), might encompass beyond what goes on in mma.

Fighting is a science that can never be totally encapsulated.

Fighting evolves and yet, we go back and find the old stuff works, and there was technique we missed.

But still, on basic cable we see shows that perpetuate silly concepts of fighting, looking for the "Who wins?" answer:

"Who would win: Alexander the Great or Attila the Hun?"

They are really trying to figure out who would win between two opponents who lived 800 yrs apart with absolutely no gauge of their physical make-up, athleticism, martial arts training?

Who knows if Attila ever even put his fists up?

It is only slightly less absurd than the debate of who wins: Mighty Mouse or Underdog?

A title bout between contemporaries can have Judges ringside who can't come to a unanimous decision, but we're to figure out the winner between the two ancient conquerors?

Or the shows will travel to exotic places to learn the local martial art. "We're in Tel Aviv with Israeli Special Forces to learn Krav Maga..."

Why not go to the Krav Maga of America Headquarters in West L.A.? It's probably about ten minutes from your production studio and I imagine it's pretty good KM?

Sure, it might not be as sexy, but you can find interesting fighting going on everywhere...

Like in Rahway, New Jersey where the wrestling club hold meet nights where ex-wrestlers, who include prison guards and NFL players, go at it.

Fighting is everywhere. Every culture and subculture fights or has come to terms with it.

Fighting changes, not only discipline from discipline, but from exit to exit on the highway; rich to poor, ethnic group to ethnic, and every possible lifestyle.

That should be a show.

Rather than  having the host be some Dude in a  silk shirt talking the talk, why not have a normal guy with a little knowledge take us to the Native American Reservation, the prisons, the cities, the mill towns, the ghetto surf culture, gangs, immigrants and on.

Just as Man vs. Food shows us the joy of food in the unexpected and the small, the fight show could expose us to how people view fighting everywhere...

World Champs to Street brawlers to survivors. I'd call it "Fighting Stance."

That would be some show.

I hope somebody does that...

Oh yeah, they did...

I have twenty-seven hours of footage that examines fighting from this exact perspective.

If you got any friends in production, tell them. Let's see if we can make this happen.

Until then: Put your money on Mighty Mouse.