When I had my testicle removed, the doctors refused to let me keep it in a little jar. Which was probably pretty smart on their part. Because I swear to fucking Christ, the next person who tells me that a diet rich in leafy greens and condescending self-help would have prevented the whole thing would catch that severed testicle right in the face.
It would have been nice to know that I should have been putting “Eat, Pray, Love” into a VitaMix with a bunch of wheatgrass juice and drinking a big glass of it every day for a decade before I got sick. Instead, I ate right, exercised, and got sick anyway. I don’t think all the sunshine and yoga in the world is going to grow that sucker back.
I made this image about it last night. I’m not sure if it sends the message or not, but sharing it makes me feel better. This one’s for all the people who don’t want to turn their illness into a life-defining mission. It’s for everyone that just wants to get back to normal.
I don’t want to fight cancer — I just want cancer to fuck off.
Is there a worse word in American English than the dreaded “c-word?” I really need to describe pretty much the worst human being I’ve ever heard of, and “cunt” seems downright generous under the circumstances. I like the Jamaican “bumba claat,” but it’s not really my language and I need to see clearly when I swing this hammer.
It’s a shame I can’t ask the author of the little document below. If he doesn’t have any leads now, I bet he will in a couple years. A good friend of mine teaches GED school. He found this on a desk in his classroom last month:
My first job after college was as a rude little gingerbread boy in a touring children’s theater company. We did three or four shows a day across Virginia, DC, and Maryland. I wore a costume with adorable fake raisins trailing down the front, a little hood with faux icing on it and burst out of a plywood oven.
It was my job to escape from a large, sweating woman in a fox costume, and usually I did. Sometimes my costume would be damp in the dryer from washing it the night before, and I would dry it in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time. I got sick, ran out of money, and tried to sell my plasma to make up the gap but nothing worked. I was doomed to become some sort of indie-rock influenced Krusty the Clown.
Every time I smell apple juice, vinyl nap mats or canned chicken soup I just want to run right into traffic and let an 18-wheeler carry my tortured soul back home. I like little kids when I can get to know them, but seeing hundreds of them in a day just reduces them into this shrieking, messy mass for and I really don’t like the person I start becoming.
If you’re doing something as a joke you’re still doing it, and you might end up kicking a kid in the face. I wish I could say that I learned that from that experience, but really it took about ten years.
I told this story at The Moth at Housing Works bookstore in SoHo back in early September, 2010. It was possibly the most fun I’ve had all year and definitely made the whole experience worthwhile.
I’d encourage you to take a long look at your own life. Whatever chain of decisions you’ve made in your life has led you to this very moment, a moment of your making.
So at some point along the way you decided something, perhaps subconsciously, that resulted in you sitting in a room in front of a computer, leaving a nasty little hateful notes on other people’s expressions of joy and passion.
That’s the kind of person that you have become.
It’s totally normal to have lonely moments where you feel unloved — it’s part of the human experience. The next time you feel lonely and unloved, just try to remember that you deserve it. The person you’ve decided to be when nobody else is looking is a total cunt.
There’s an inherent irony in using the Internet to write a nasty note in public to chastise someone for writing nasty notes in public. I’m aware of that now. But in the moment, I just couldn’t help myself. It’s something about the human condition that just disgusts me, casually revealing such hateful awful stuff when we don’t think anyone else is looking. You’d think that children would grow out of pointing the finger and howling at somebody that’s different than themselves, but they don’t. They just hide it better.
During the great coffee debacle of 2008, a man emailed me directly — at my personal e-mail address — to inform me that if there were any justice in the world, I would be raped to death in prison. Or by a goat, if they were maybe allowed into the prison yard. Read the rest of this entry »
This week’s Moth podcast is really exciting for me. It features two people that are not only great storytellers but great friends of mine: Brad Lawrence and ******.
Brad’s way too modest to say so, but he is tearing UP the NYC storytelling scene right now. He won two Moth GrandSlams back to back, which is not unlike Ian MacKaye starting both Minor Threat and Fugazi — except tinier and more fleeting. He and Cyndi Freeman have a new storytelling show out in Brooklyn called The Standard Issues, and he’s blogging here AND his personal blog, too – you’ve heard me mention that ad infinitum.
****** has been a great friend to me since the night we met. She’s a hilarious storyteller and a caring soul who once painted me a picture of a pink cockroach with one testicle while I was recovering from surgery. She lives in Philadelphia and occasionally creeps up here on a Chinese bus, lays waste to a roomful of people and then goes back home and hides in her attic until next time.
And this is a video of ****** doing what she does best. She actually performed this story the night that we met for the first time. It was my first Moth event, and it felt like pulling a sword from a stone. I’d been looking for something to do and some cool weird art form to dive right into, and that lightbulb went on during ******’s story. I ran up to her after, trying really hard not to be a creepy fan guy. Turns out she was just as stunned as I was. She’s helped me shape a lot of my stuff and is always there to freak out with over the telephone.
Being friends with ****** reminds me of being in high school, where we talk on the phone late at night and say outrageous stuff to each other and are both way too sensitive and passionate. We got in a fight once like a couple of teenagers and it felt like one of my legs got cut off until we made up.
So this is a video of me doing a show that I am in love with. It is called Story Collider, the producers are Ben Lillie and Brian Wecht, and it is a science themed storytelling show. I don’t know why I am so in love with that concept, but for some reason it has a lot of romance for me.
The show features storytellers with no science background, as well as scientists with no performance background. The theme for the one I did was Friction and, as you will see, mine is very science light because I am somewhat science dim. Or to be generous, I took the metaphorical route. Cyndi will be appearing in their next one, which is Epidemics, on August 12th at Pacific Standard.
As you will see in the video, a show about science; educational perhaps, but not for kids.
After you enjoy this, go check out my GrandSLAM winning story on The Moth Podcast. It won a GrandSLAM.
I have, over the last year, stepped away from my street artist, punk rock, DIY background and actually done something in the way that things are done. I put together a book proposal and started writing a book. And I was an over night success. The End.
This process can make you feel like an ant trying to work its way to the top of a Jello Mold from the inside. You have meeting after meeting and the agent might come and go with nary a nickel on the bedside table. (I am pretty sure mine has gone, if anyone sees him tell him, y’know, call me?) There are going to be parts of the business that glimmer like the city on the hill and others that smell like a dog run on a hot summer day. And, in the end, it just becomes easy to sit and stare at a phone.
But that is the restricted lane, toll road to a nervous breakdown. I have had to make myself remember at times that the work is mine and mine to do and mine to keep doing. You can’t wait around for people, unless you decided to be a writer because being suspended in misery is just what you’re into. In the end, I like what I do and I hope that always co exists with the business of editors and agents and publishers. If it doesn’t, I have taken a wrong turn.
All of this is to say – Having worked on the book for the better part of the last year, I am now sitting on a heap of material that I can use for the various weird projects I am involved in all over the city.
One of my favorites is The BTK Band, a fully improvised live music, storytelling, burlesque extravaganza. This project started out as a rough ride on an overgrown trail with a flat tire and is quickly becoming one of the tightest and most innovative live shows happening in New York. I can toot that horn, because most of the credit goes to the rest of the outfit and its leader, Peter Aguero.
But we are here to talk about me. This video is something I put together from an audio recording of one of the performances and it represents a piece of the book transformed for a new use. So enjoy that, and then check out my blog because there are a bunch of shows I am doing this coming week that I am really happy to be a part of and they are all listed over there, and there are sample chapters from the book, too. – Enjoy.
One more thing, If you are enjoying Cyndi and I on the blog, we will be appearing together as our burlesque alter egos, Cherry Pitz and Johnny Angel, at Seth Lind’s Told on Monday the 19th, 7 o’clock, at Under Saint Marks Theater. We will be there as wigged, lycra clad relationship counselors. You need our help.
Wait a second. You know this is going to be good, when it starts with “My friend’s cousin.”
My friend’s cousin is a teacher at a charter school in Washington, D.C. She found this on the floor of a 3rd grade classroom and recognized it for the gold mine that it is — scanned it into a fax-to-PDF scanner immediately.
In early 2004 I was an assistant to a kangaroo shooter in the Australian Outback. Pretty much the only experience more bizarre and terrifying would be if I were to have worked with a kangaroo shooter at the National Zoo.
Before you go getting all fired up, remember that kangaroos are pests in Australia, and people eat their meat all the time. And meat does not just cheerfully lie itself down on the burger bun, either. Kangaroo meat is as free-range and organic as it gets, but you’ve still got to do a fair bit of old-fashioned killing to make it happen — and the process is disturbing, gory, and pretty hideous. Not unlike the rest of nature, the parts they don’t show you on the television programs.
But not a day goes by that I don’t think of that experience in some way or another. It taught me a lot. I learned to get tough, how to do some hard, hard work, and how to put aside all my pussified city liberal ideas and face the realities of the food chain.
I told this story at The Moth on October 22, 2009. I’d told it at the Moth last year, as well as at The Liar Show, Risk!, and Seth Lind’s Told. I’ve also told parts of this story to pretty much anyone that will sit still in my presence since early 2004. I think D.Billy, my co-blogger here, has seen me tell the thing each time, too.
I’ve pitched it to This American Life twice now, and had Ira Glass personally tell me to my face, that while he really likes the story as long as he is a broadcaster in the United States of America, it will not appear on his show. He was actually really nice about it – and he’s right. The story, in its original and best incarnation, has tons of appalling gore in it, the killing of defenseless baby kangaroos and uses the word “cunt” more times in ten minutes than most Americans have heard in their entire lives. And cutting that stuff out kinda neuters the whole enterprise.
If I’m this sick of telling this story, I can only imagine how tired my friends are of hearing it. And I’ve sure made a lot of hay off the experience on this blog.
Unless something tremendous happens, I feel like I can safely say that this story’s been done to death and put to bed here in New York City. It feels good to be all the way through this one and kinda wipe the slate clean for a batch of new stuff.
On the other hand, I’m about to go to Australia again for two weeks starting Saturday. And if I can claw my way in front of a microphone after a couple or six VBs, this thing might rise again. If any of you know of storytelling shows or reading series or something similar in Adelaide or Melbourne, please let me know. I’d love to try this or other stories in front of an Aussie audience.