My Son Says I’m The Incredible Hulk

There is a numb tingle across my lips and body,
my eyes are unable to focus,
it is urgent, I need to focus, my brain and my eyes,
but my eyes are unable to focus.
Light swirls with darkness, and everything is fuzzy.

I’m told hours have passed, then days,
…but I counted the seconds, and it’s only been a minute.
The temperature has shifted rapidly,
my spine is cold, and my skin is hot with sweat.

What happened while I was gone?
Where did I go?
Why can’t I get a hold of myself?

Adulthood

There is a hollow in my chest,
I can feel my breath echo against my ribs,
stinging on impact.

My humanity is being pulled as if by magnet,
north toward the graveyard,
aching from a long cumbersome journey,
to mourn.

My heart, and soul are heavy,
like two limbs that have fallen asleep,
not wanting to budge.

If I follow my humanity,
I fear I’ll wither and die,
a flower plucked.

If I follow my heart and soul,
will I feel absence?
Will I flourish by choking out the other plants?

I crave the two factions to meld,
I need an emulsifier,
because they are repellent forces,

…tearing me apart.

If You Believe…

A huge part of my childhood, was my love of Jim Carrey.  When I was young (4 or 5 or 6 years old) I would hide in the doorway of my bedroom, or behind the couch and watch In Living Color, when my mother would be watching it (I am pretty sure it was my just my mother, but I remember watching it more than who I was trying to not get caught by).  Then Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber came out, and I was hooked.

Needless to say, I was a Jim Carrey fan, and over the course of the 90’s I made a point to go see every movie that he was in, even the little cameos like Simon Birch, or films that I and the rest of audience couldn’t quite appreciate yet like The Cable Guy.  He had a rubber face, and did funny voices, and that was really all I cared about.

During the last year, or so, of the 90’s I would read about the chaos on the set of his new movie.  He had got into some fight with a wrestler, and he may have broken his neck.  As far as I could tell from the very minimal amount of reading materials I had access to, he was going full blown Hollywood wack-a-doo.  I was worried it was the beginning of the end.

Yet, the articles that wrote about these antics didn’t seem to have the same worry that I did.  At the time, I chalked it up to the fact that they weren’t as invested in his continued success as I was, and perhaps him crashing and burning was great for them.

 

In 1999, Man On The Moon was released in theaters, and I couldn’t wait to see it, and see if it was going to be a disaster ruined by his backstage antics.  It was rated R, so normally, my parents would not have let me see it, but it was about Andy Kaufman, who they had known as Latka on Taxi in the mid-70’s.

So, I managed to get them to let me watch it.  My dad didn’t really like Jim Carrey’s movies, because he was too goofy, so he didn’t watch it with us, but my mother, my sister and I watched, and it affected me.  Right now, I will say, this is my favorite film of all time, and while I’m not sure I would have said that upon first viewing, I was immediately in love.

 

As I watched the movie, I was taken by the fact that it was so unlike anything I had seen with Jim Carrey before.  Sure, The Truman Show, and other films had shown us the more serious side, but there was still some of the sweet/innocent goofball in there, but the character of Andy Kaufman was not.  That’s not to say that he isn’t likable, but he was—at least in the depiction in the film— purposefully abrasive, and purposefully aloof.  Carrey’s other characters never seemed very purposeful.

Living through the seventies and eighties probably gives many people a much different view of Andy Kaufman than I have.  He ‘died’ three months before I was born, so Man On The Moon was my first introduction to him.  One of the great things about Man On the Moon is that the narrative structure of the film, is done in such a way that it is as if Andy himself would have made it.  The beginning is Jim as Andy speaking directly to the camera in his Latka voice, and welcoming the audience to the movie, and telling them how stupid the movie is, and that it’s so stupid and that it is short too, and in fact, it’s over by the end of his monologue.  Then, he puts on a record, and the credits begin to play as he stares at you.  It’s incredibly awkward, and for those of us unfamiliar with Kaufman, and I assume for those who were only aware of him from Taxi, it was unparalleled in its bizarreness.  Then it goes into a more standard narrative once those who ‘don’t understand’ or won’t ‘try to understand’ have been weeded out.  Telling the story of his life, and eventually his death.  The final scene (spoiler alert) show his alter ego Tony Clifton performing on stage after his death, and we’re to believe it’s his partner and part-time Tony Clifton, Bob Zmuda, but then the camera pans over to Zmuda sitting in the audience watching.  The ending wants to leave an ambivalence to whether or not Kaufman is dead, which is absolutely what Kaufman would have wanted.

I’ve gone back and forth on whether I think that Kaufman actually died, and have read up on it, and watched interviews with his brother, and ultimately, I do think that he’s dead.  But I still find the ending of the film fascinating, because I cannot remember ever seeing a film that seemed to tell the story the way the main character would see it to such a drastic degree, other than perhaps Memento.

Very shortly after this movie, I began to lose some of my interest in Jim Carrey.  I was a teenager, and more subversive and alternative forms of comedy were beginning to appeal to me, and it was also the end of his heyday, but this film transitioned me, not only from Jim Carrey style comedy to more bizarre and cerebral fare, but from Carrey himself to Kaufman.  Ultimately Kaufman’s more bizarre and oddball type of comedy doesn’t seem to appear on film or video as often as it does in stories told by others, and it’s become legendary, and perhaps more importantly, it created a legacy.

Each type of comedy dates back to something, and perhaps straightfaced, anti-comedy dates back to Andy.  Sacha Baron Cohen sites other influences, but certainly what he’s doing is more similar to Andy’s total commitment style of “it doesn’t matter if I’m the only one who gets the joke”.  Nathan Fielder in his show Nathan For You, similarly plays not only with the idea of a character being all encompassing and not necessarily having the comedy come from him but in how those around him react, but he also plays with the form, going on talk-shows as part of his ‘schemes.’

 

 

Maybe the best thing I’m most excited for, is that tomorrow, a documentary, “Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton”, about Jim Carrey and the filming of Man On The Moon will be available on Netflix.  In the previews for the film, they’ve said the studio never wanted the footage to be released, and they are doing the same type of hype that they had done in telling people almost 20 years ago, that Jim Carrey had been in a fight with Jerry Lawler (similar to the fake feud that Kaufman had with him, that wasn’t admitted until the film showed them side by side talking about it.)

In my opinion, Man On The Moon is a masterpiece, and I’m hoping that this documentary captures even a little bit of that magic for me.

Kaufman himself may only appear in the documentary as a character, and to an extant, I think that’s the perfect way for us to remember him.

Eventually, I hope, that all of you will see Man On The Moon, and perhaps, this documentary is just thing to make that happen.  If you’ve seen Man On The Moon, let me know what you thought of it, and if you’re excited to see this documentary.

Alone Together

Weeks pass; pages flipping in the wind,
we stare but can’t touch each other the entire time.
A constant chaperone, a miniature drunkard, stumbles between us.
As he falls asleep on duty, I sneak closer to you,
his eyes blink open, and his glare bores a hole,
I go back to my place,
frustrated, but not ashamed.

My lips are chapped sandpaper in the heat of the summer,
and need your velvet kiss to heal me.
The wet of yours seap in like a salve,
You are across a canyon, but i can hear your every whisper.
I miss you, and I need you.
When he’s asleep lets sneak off, and rediscover each other.

Lets sneak away when we get a chance

August 12th, 2017 – The fight isn’t over yet

When I was young, I learned about racism in school.
I learned about it in history, and not in current affairs.
I had a teacher who told us about marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,
and she was as proud to say that as any pride I had ever witnessed.
By the time I learned about Dr. King, he had been dead for twenty years.
April of 1968 and the fight wasn’t over.
I thought racism was over, I thought it had been won.
Around that time, on the other side of the country,
it was waging and burning on, and I knew nothing about it,
that was in April of 1992, but I learned about it years later
…as history.
April of 1992 and the fight wasn’t over.

Evenutally, I began to learn about racism, about racist violence as it occurred.
People like Travon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and too many names to keep track of died, and within days I would hear about them.
But the racial impact wasn’t accepted by many,
there are arguments about ‘deserving’ their executions.
Even when faced with the death of 12 year old Tamir Rice, I see resistance.
November of 2014 and the fight wasn’t over.

Yesterday was August 12, 2017.
Slavery ended almost 152 years ago,
Emmett Till’s death started the Civil Rights movement 62 years ago this month,
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death was 49 years ago,
the LA Riots were 25 years ago,
Over the last five years we have seen countless unarmed black people killed,
and yesterday we saw white supremacy in every form (that I’m aware of) proudly announce they would not hide anymore.
The fight isn’t over.

It is important for everyone, to continue to stand up, and be heard against this evil—and I do not think there is another word for it.
But it is not just important for those who have to fight, those whom the fight comes to,
it’s important for people like me, for those of us who can avoid it if we want, to stand with those who cannot avoid it.

We do not have superior genes, or complexions,
we are not superior people,
but we have superior luck, or fortune, or whatever word you prefer
and as such we have a responsibility.
Trying to survive, trying to thrive, these are things that we take as ‘givens’
but choosing to do what is right, choosing to stand on the right side,
when it is avoidable, is equally important.

I don’t kid myself that this fight will be over in my life time,
but that doesn’t mean I get to sit on the sidelines and not participate.
I think there is a much larger percentage of the other side who are sitting it out,
but I think there must be more of us than there are of them, and our voices can drown theirs out, or perhaps even better, our voices can amplify so loudly together that perhaps they will not only hear us, but listen.

Ode to ‘Fuck’

(This poem is originally from my book: Everything I’ve Got)

I

Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb;
Fuck in many forms.
Carlin opened my eyes, and showed its full potential.
A word so perfect, like a master key,
able to fit in anywhere.

     ‘Fuck Yeah!’
Verbalized adrenaline coursing out our mouths.
Heart pounding, pumping like a piston.

          ‘Fuck You!’
Venom spat from hate filled lips.
All but the target turns to white before your eyes.

     ‘We’re Fucked!’
The cry of the desperate falling off their tongues.
Realization. Defiance.

‘Fuck This!’
Throwing out another crumpled piece of paper.
Exhausted. Defeated.

          ‘Fuck Me!’
Passion exclaimed from shortened breaths.
Lips and limbs entangled.

Just
‘Fuck!’
Mind blank and simultaneously filled to the brim.
Nothing else to say.  Nothing else will do.

‘…Fucked Up!’
Did we? Or are we?
Often both.

          ‘What The Fuck?!’
Furrowed brow, red faced.

‘Fucking Great!’
No it’s not.

     ‘Unbe-FUCKING-lievable!’

II

Some fucked up quotes…

     “Those who mind don’t [fuck], and those who [fuck] don’t mind.”

     “[Fucking] is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

     “That which does not [fuck] us makes us stronger.”

III

Not like the “N”-word, the “C”-word, or that other “F”-word.
Beautiful like a crimson sunset.
Vile as a maggot ridden corpse.
Flexible like an acrobat.
Strong like a steel beam.
Everything.
Nothing.
So… ‘Fuck off!’