what if?

What if we’re wrong. And by ‘we,’ I mean…me, and the people who agree with me. For instance–as much as I might think fundamentalist right-wing narrow-minded racist misogynistic homophobes are idiots–what if I’m wrong. What if, when I depart this plane of existence, I am greeted by the real St. Peter–at a real gate, with a real clipboard in his hands-and he’s working through a checklist.

“Okay–pro-choice…that’s not good. Had sex with other men…that’s a big ‘no’. Believed that Christian doctrine is –and I’m quoting here–’a feel-good myth that keeps people weak and easy to manipulate and encourages right-wing narrow-minded racist misogynistic homophobia’–that is definitely not what we’re looking for. Off to the fiery pit with you.”

Or what if we’re wrong about the internet. What if, instead of being potentially infinite, there is actually a limit to the amount of, for lack of a better word, crap that can be posted to the web. What if, at some point, some blogger (or worse–a ‘Tweeter’) could post something entirely innocuous, and all of sudden, the internet is full. No more room. What if all that information basically crashed the whole thing–one nerd in his basement thinks “I should add some Flash animation to my website, then link my website to my Facebook page where people can see a link to my YouTube video–” and the whole thing goes kerflooey.

No more IMDB, no more Googling, no more email–talk about a good old-fashioned Christian apocalypse…the skies would be raining twenty-something middle-management lemmings jumping out of corner offices–the streets would be littered with Blackberries and Bluetooths (Blueteeth?). People would be forced to actually talk to each other.


me and al capone

One of the most under-reported stories of Tax Day  is that I filed my tax returns. You know, the yearly ritual of teeth-gnashing, hand-wringing and misdirected whining that everyone goes through. Well, until this week, that was everyone but me. The IRS even has a term for me (makes sense–we have plenty of terms for them)–I am known as a Chronic Non-Filer. Believe it or not, I am fifty-one years old and had never, until 2009, told the government how much money I made.

When I first started making money as a comic, I wasn’t really clear on how to file with that kind of freelance income. Then, as each year passed, I became afraid to file, thinking than once I started the paper trail, I would be in some serious trouble. After all, this is how they got Capone–not the stealing, or the killing people, but the tax thing.

What’s ridiculous about this is it’s not like I was leading a Capone-like life. When I was on the road as a comedian, the most I ever stole was some hotel towels, and other than metaphorically, I killed nobody. I wasn’texactly hiding from a reign of scandal and terror (although I have often thought that I’m just not famous enough to know if I fathered any children–when I’m huge, that’s when I’ll get the letters saying “I was a waitress at a the Chuckle Hut in East Des Moines in 1987, and here’s a picture of our son–send money”).

I also never made enough money to have to PAY taxes. Even in my best years, I would frequently get bailed out by various friends and “the kindness of strangers” (It’s so much easier to pull of Blanche Dubois now that I’m a tired old queen). I wasn’t hiding all of my vast income in some offshore unmarked account–I put most of my ‘assets’ into the pockets of my weed dealer and the CD store  at the mall in the town where I was performing.

The IRS never contacted me–I’d like to think changing my stage name twice and moving every year and a half  made me more elusive, but that’s ego talking. I changed my name because I thought of one I liked better, and I usually moved because I ran out of money and–had to. The reality is that one occasionally employed guy telling jokes in bars for a hundred bucks and a couple of drinks just wasn’t a priority for the Federal Government. I feel so insignificant.

I realized a while back that I was actually living ‘off the grid’. Now unlike the Unabomber, I didn’t have the discipline to write a manifesto, and unlike Jack Bauer, I wasn’t using my fringe status to infiltrate any terrorist organizations. Frankly, I’m just too lazy to make the most of being off the grid. Then there’s the issue of my politics. Anyone who knows me would vouch for my lefty sensibilities–as far as I’ve always been concerned, to paraphrase Jefferson, “that government which governs best spends buttloads of money building really cool things”.

When friends would confront me about this (ok, they usually were confronting me about money I owed them, but that’s not the point here), I acknowledged it would be more consistent with my politics if I, oh, paid into the system I supported, but I always said that I’d deal with my tax status ‘next year’.

Well, next year became this year, and I’ve started the paper trail. Of course, now I’m afraid that I’m gonna have to do all those other grownup things I’ve dodged on my blithely blissful bohemian path–like I’m worried that when I get my refund check, in the same envelope will be directions to my house in the burbs , the names of my wife and children, and a Home Depot credit card. I suppose to assuage my fear of growing up, I could take the refund I’m expecting and piss it away–buy a few hundred Powerball tickets (you can’t win if you don’t play!) or fly to L.A. just to have a drink with some old college buddies.

When the Tea Party protests started, I couldn’t help but relish the ironic juxtaposition with my life. Here were thousands of people protesting the very thing for which I had finally signed up. But that’s me–I’ve always been a little back-asswards. Or maybe I’m just a rebel. Yeah, that’s it–I’m a rebel.


and the senate seat goes to…

Having lived in Illinois during the Blagojevich era, I came to enjoy political scandal as theater. In a state where reading the local political news feels like reading Soap Opera Digest, reactions from people on the street to the latest allegations weren’t so much “Oh no he DIDN’T” as they were “Ah, what are ya gonna do?”

Here in Minnesota, political controversy is a much bigger deal because, well, it’s pretty darned unusual.  We like our politics as clean as our cities, don’t ya know. In an exhaustive ten minute internet search, I was only able to find one previous scandal in Minnesota:

  • Minnesota State Senator Sam Solon (D-MN) Pleaded guilty in 1995 to telecommunications fraud for letting his ex-wife make $2,430 in calls on his State Senate telephone line

Outrageous! Where are the reformers?! The system is broken! Seriously, folks–that’s it. Over a decade ago, a state senator’s wife made some long-distance calls. See, ‘Minnesota nice’ means that we don’t have scandals. Heck, we even have a Muslim congressman, and the hubub over that here in Lutheran Land lasted maybe a week. And though right-wing nutjob Michelle Bachman is TRYING to generate some cymbal-clanging outrage, we tolerate her, too.

Our politics is quirky here. Minnesota has historically been a bastion of old-school liberalism (Hubert Humphrey, of course, and don’t forget we’re the only state Mondale carried), but we also elected a professional wrestler as governor. And, if is former comedy partner is to be believed, our current senator is the only member of that august body to have dropped acid.

So I figure there might be an opening in the next election. The issues which grip this state will be the same–having enough Target stores, keeping Garrison Keillor on the radio, and solving the Twins’ pitching problems. So I have decided to launch an ‘exploratory committee’ in advance of the 2016 race.

Let me offer a little background for the voters. I have always registered as a Democrat, except for the year in California when I switched my registration to the Peace and Freedom Party. Suffice to say, there was a woman involved. And some weed. On the issues, I’m opposed to crime, and in favor of education. I will save the state millions of dollars by running official business from my apartment,, and since I am currently unemployed, I will have the time to commit at least three hours each day to solving the state’s budget crisis.

The state’s unemployment will be addressed by the creation of a massive public works project.  I propose we build a giant insulating dome over the city of Minneapolis, thereby courting conventions and tourist dollars even in the middle of winter.

Now here’s the most visionary part of my plan. Forget ‘sin’ taxes, which clearly haven’t stopped people from smoking or drinking (every smoker I know has said things like “When cigarettes get to be more than x dollars a pack, I’m quitting,” and in reality, we would buy them for fifty dollars a pack out of the back of a van).

Instead, I am proposing a  tax on healthy things. Soy milk. Broccoli. Bicycles. Especially bicycles. And everything related to bicycles–tax their goofy little blinking lights, tax their ridiculous bells and tax their helmets which apparently make them feel invincible as they cross three lanes of rush hour traffic and ignore stop lights even though the helmet will only protect your skull while the rest of your body can still get RUN OVER! Sorry. Bicyclists just seem a little full of themselves sometime.

Oh, and to avoid any possibility of getting caught up in some pay-for-play, graft-fueled corruption scandal, I will sever all ties with any professional politicians. I will only talk to my closest friends. Just my buds. Who will also be my advisors. And who will serve in various positions in my office.