Went to the Newseum in Washington, DC because I thought I’d be able to see Ted Bundy’s Volkswagon Bug there. It isn’t there. It’s at the Crime Museum which is down the street. Oh well. You should’ve seen me try to ask an employee that without drawing attention to myself: “Uh…pssst…excuse me. Where can I see Ted Bundy’s VW?” I whispered it because I didn’t want any of the families around me to know that in their midst was a lone traveler who was in DC for three things: stand-up, visiting the Holocaust museum, and seeing serial killer Ted Bundy’s Volkswagon. You should have seen how close I got to this guy: “Hey, where’s Bundy’s VW?” And he was all, in a really loud voice, like: “Oh, you’re in the wrong museum! Bundy’s car’s in the Crime Museum down the street!” He practically yelled it. Like he was saying: “Ladies and gentlemen! We got a creep here!” I think I said: “Shit.” I don’t remember. So I had to settle for looking at old footage of Reagan getting shot and that one North Vietnamese spy getting executed. You know, family stuff.
I went to trivia night with my friends Pat, Alex and Ken later and we were doing pretty well until that Harry Potter work sheet. There were all these stills from the Harry Potter movies and under each one you had to write which movie they were from. I had almost no idea for most of them. And I consoled myself by believing that I knew the books better than the movies and that was why I didn’t know these. But then the next phase of questions were all about the Harry Potter books, and I barely knew those either. I’ve read all the books and I still couldn’t remember a lot of the shit in them. I just remember Snape. Snape is the best thing in the whole Harry Potter story. He’s the only reason I kept reading the books. The whole way through I was all: “What is up with Snape?” And then, the last question of the whole night was also Harry Potter. What the fuck? “We’re grown men!” my table shouted out. “We don’t know these and we’re proud of it!”
I went up to two young blonde women afterwards, said: “Excuse me. Did you guys do the trivia?” and they were all: “No,” and I just launched into my issues with having that much Harry Potter in one night. I was all: “I think if you’re going to have that much Harry Potter in one night, that should be the name of the night. ‘Harry Potter Trivia Night.’” They seemed amused by my opinions and I’m doing stand-up tomorrow night at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse and I don’t think I’ll be funnier than I was with those girls.
I was recently in New York for ten days and I haven’t overheard more parents in public threatening to hit their kids since that 11:00 am showing of Frozen I went to a few months ago. (By the way, three things: One — I heard no parent threaten to hit their kid at Frozen; Two — I just remember my eighth grade teacher telling us to put something attention-getting in the first sentence of everything you write, and people love that Frozen shit, so…; And Three — Yes, I did go to an 11:00 am showing of Frozen in Glendale by myself so I could feel something. You know how some people cut themselves to feel something? I go to 11:00 am showings of Frozen by myself in Glendale so I can feel something. Same thing with visiting memorials, just without popcorn and fruit punch.) In other words, I was struck by how often I heard a New York parent threaten to strike their kid either on a subway platform or on the sidewalk. I felt like I was being hit. If you’re not looking in the direction of the demon parent in question, you will at first think the threat is being directed at you.
"You gone quit right now or you getting’ slapped, straight up!”
Unless you’re already looking in that direction, how do you know that isn’t meant for you? It’s New York. It’s nuts. I assume any threat of violence is meant for me. That’s how self-involved I am. There are plenty of mentally unstable people who think “slappin’ you straight up” is the only way to appease the demons of their mind. And most of the time, you’re not looking in their direction anyway because your big dumb face is buried in your big dumb phone, like mine constantly was because I was always trying to figure out my own coordinates with apps like HopStop or the one that just shows the subway map. (I can’t believe there isn’t a New York app called WhereTheHellYouAre.) Even though I lived there a long time ago, there were many times when I asked out loud: “Where am I?” And be honest: After burying your face in your phone for several oblivious minutes, wouldn’t you want someone there to threaten to slap you if you didn’t put that phone away? That’s what it felt like. It felt like the violent parent was threatening to punch me if I didn’t put my phone away. It’s only until I looked up to see they were yelling at their kid when I said: “Oh, whew. I thought they were talking to me.”
You know, this started out as some diatribe aimed at the scary, abusive parents. But now I think I appreciate them because they would always scare me out of staring at my phone. So thank you, scary-ass parents of New York City. Your children will probably be very successful in Hollywood.
Ever have someone try to apologize to you for something and they end up saying everything except “I’m sorry”? You know what it is they want to say, or what it is they know they should say, but you can see by their bulging veins and sideways looks, their fumbling words and shame-laden pauses, their deep and passionate yearning for an anvil to drop on them so they don’t have to say what they know they should say that they’re so not into apologizing. They’re looking around at any and all distractions so they can not talk about the one thing they should talk about. It’s almost like they’re waiting for you to say what they can’t for them. The words they do say a lot are “you know.” They’re all: ” You know, I’ve been feeling bad about something for a long time now, you know, and it was something I said and I shouldn’t have said it, you know, and I just want you to know I’ve been feeling awful about it and, you know, you’re not gonna make me say this shit, are you?”
I made this one sensitive and easily-angered guy mad and for about a year I just decided not to speak to him or be around him. And the worst thing about a reaction like that is all it does is turn you into one of them: you become pissy and angry and before you know it you’re just like them. So I decided to apologize to him, but not because I thought I had done anything wrong. I apologized to him to relinquish myself of his contagious fury. And it worked. I felt immediately better and superior! I mean, I had already felt superior before all of that, but you know what I mean.
Saturday night I got hit on by a black guy named Promise in Brooklyn at Union Hall after playing indoor bocce ball. “Yo, you GAY?” he asked.
This is basically what it sounded like: “I’m Promise! You GAY?” I’m thinking: “You’re the one named Promise and you think I’m gay?”
I kind of felt pressure to have a similar kind of name. After hearing Promise, you have to admit Matt is sort of a let down. Like I was supposed to say: “Hey, Promise. My name’s Sworn Vow. Or: “Hey, Promise. I’m Doomy Fate.” Or: “Nice to meet you, Promise. My name’s Perpetually Uncomfortable.”
See, this is what I mean by living. “I gotta get out and experience life more,” I say. So I take these trips to New York and Boulder and Omaha and Des Moines so I can simply have something to talk about, like getting hit on by a black guy named Promise.
"No, no I’m not gay," I say. He says: "Okay, okay, I just wanna make sure we’re on the same page."
I’m thinking: “Seems like you’re gay and I’m not. How is that on the same page?” But I didn’t say that.
He said: “I saw you dancing downstairs with your friends. Thought you might’ve been gay.”
True, to kill time waiting for bocce ball, I had been dancing with friends. It was more like swaying, really. Promise had been checking me out dancing and thought I was gay. This was a reverse Jeffrey Dahmer situation, and it was still the best compliment I’ve gotten in months.
He’s all: “I don’t go to no black clubs no more. I like hanging out at the white clubs.” And I’m all: “Why?” And he’s all: “Those black clubs, man, they be all extra.”
Any opportunity to learn new slang terms is a plus for me. So I go: “What do you mean, ‘extra?’” And he goes: “You get a bunch of black dudes up in there, it’s getting late and they’re drunk, someone gonna get punched or stabbed or shot.”
Violence. Extra means violence. Got it. Now watch: I’ll probably use it all the time and say it in front of the wrong people and get extra-ed in the ass or something.
Promise went to get something from a friend of his and while he stepped away, I downed the remainder of my beer and did something that I simply love to do in situations like this: I quickly ran out the door and bolted down the street at a full sprint, on the constant look out for any “extra.”
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I’m dog-sitting this dog who resents it when I go on the Internet. When I’m laying around doing nothing, she’ll put her head on my stomach and laze with me. But the second technology gets involved, she acts like a jilted lover.
Every time I turn my computer on or put my stupid face into my stupid phone, she walks out of the room. It’s the most withering glare of disappointment I’ve ever gotten from any living thing in my life. Not even people look at me like that. My dad’s look of shame when I told him I wanted to quit the Boy Scouts pales in comparison to the sideways, nose-down glare I get from this disapproving canine. This old girlfriend’s narrow-eyed frown when I told her I wanted to try stand-up comedy for the first time can’t hold a condescending candle to the contemptuous scowl I receive from this water-lapping doggie whenever I check my Twitter favs. The evil witch look of abject fury my fifth grade teacher bestowed on me one morning after I dared to use the north side entrance to the school instead of the standard south side entrance is not nearly up to the level of disgust this dog feels for me whenever I do what I’m doing now: typing into the Internet.
I’m being made to feel shame for using the Internet from someone who shits in public. You don’t see me throwing her shade for defecating in front of people in Brooklyn Bridge park. In fact, not only do I not throw her shade, not only do I not cast disparaging glares of objection in her direction, I clean up her poo. And she has the nerve to make me feel less than for using the Internet? The nerve on this one.
She’s kind of like living with my mom. She’s basically saying: “Go outside!” Of course, what she’s really saying is: “Go outside and take me with you!”
When people ask me what kind of dog she is, I tell them she’s half pointer, half luddite.
There was a story in the news about a patient who shot his psychiatrist. The psychiatrist returned fire. The psychiatrist had a gun under his desk.
I believe they call that “challenging the patient.”
I get therapy. Right now, it’s every other week. Not very intense, but I go. My therapist says things like: “How did you feel about that?” and “Let’s unpack that” and “Talk more about that.” The idea of her using that kind of parlance whilst also packing heat is rather amusing. She doesn’t seem the type to have an interest in guns, but it would not surprise me at all if she had some kind of defensive weapon at the ready somewhere in her office should one of her less-than-stable patients get a little over-expressive. Or if not a weapon, at least a trap door. Or a hidden net that suddenly swoops up the offending patient and hoists him (it’ll probably be a man) up to the ceiling. The image of me intimating to my therapist my deep feelings about the irritating people of the Los Angeles comedy scene to the point where I had to draw a weapon is not hard to imagine, but that weapon would probably be a rubber band or maybe a spork. To be used on myself, of course.
My first reaction to a headline about a psychiatrist shooting one of his patents is: “I can’t believe that!” Then five seconds later it’s: “I can totally believe that.” At first you think: “You’re a psychiatrist. What’re you doing with a gun?” Then you think: “You’re a psychiatrist! What’re you not doing with a gun?” Gun ranges should have special offers for psychiatrists. They should set up desks so the doctors can practice how to take shots from behind them. They should offer classes on how to effectively conceal a firearm under your chair and quickly draw it from a sitting position in one sweeping maneuver.
What does a psychiatrist say to the patient he’s just shot? “How did you feel about that? How was that for you?”
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They have indoor bocci ball at Union Hall.
That’s right. Indoor bocci ball on clay courts at Union Hall in Brooklyn. How’re you supposed to get any drinking done? So much damn fun. You know what I like? I like throwing them high and dropping’ ‘em. THUD. PLOP. Like a boulder falling from a hovering chopper onto thick, wet sand. FROMP. Stone dead drops. So satisfying. They had two long courts. I didn’t get a picture of it because…well, out of respect. You know when you’re at a museum and you forget to take pictures because you’re in such respectful awe of all that—whattaya call it?—stupid art? Same thing with this. I saw those courts and I was like Tim Roth in Pulp Fiction when he finally gets a glimpse of the Holy Grail in that brief case. (Yes, it’s the Holy Grail.) “It’s beautiful.” I was like Belloq in Raiders when the angels are flying out of the ark and he goes: “It’s beautiful!” and he’s so distracted he can’t for the life of him anticipate the dark-ass death to come. These bocci courts had that effect on me. If I lived near a bar with these long-ass clay bocci ball courts, I think I’d develop a serious drinking problem.
And on the way home, I saw perhaps the world’s smallest fire escape. I don’t really see the escape part, unless you consider dropping twelve feet to the sidewalk an escape. More like a fire plummet. What do you say to people walking by when you lock yourself out on that thing? “Oh, hey! No, I didn’t lock myself out. I was just out here writing my novel like Jack Kerouac used to do. Oh, he didn’t do that? Huh. Why do you stop to talk to people trapped on their fire plummet?”
It doesn’t look at all like the guy in front is choking. I think the guy behind him just likes hugging people from behind. The guy in front is just thinking about how everyone’s watching.
GUY IN BACK: So you’re choking, right?
GUY IN FRONT: No.
GUY IN BACK: I’m trained for things like this.
GUY IN FRONT: You’re trained for dealing with people who’re not choking? That sounds like vigorous training.
GUY IN BACK: What I’m gonna do is—
GUY IN FRONT: Let me go?
GUY IN BACK: Lock my hands together over your belly—
GUY IN FRONT: You’re not gonna let me go.
GUY IN BACK: And pull back forcefully.
GUY IN FRONT: I bet what you’re about to do will cause me to choke. So after you’re done, I will need help.
GUY IN BACK: This motion will force the piece of food out of your throat.
GUY IN FRONT: There is no piece of food in my throat. You know how I know that? Because I’m speaking clearly.
GUY IN BACK: Ready?
GUY IN FRONT: Only never.
GUY IN BACK: Here we go. (Pulls back forcefully)
GUY IN FRONT: That really hurts and this is really embarrassing.
GUY IN BACK: Sounds like you’re breathing regularly again.
GUY IN FRONT: Yeah, I’m great. Thanks. Can you let me go now?
GUY IN BACK; Would it be okay if I just kept holding you like this?
GUY IN FRONT: I knew that’s what this was all about. (Pause) Sure, that’s fine.
In Santa Monica last week I parked in front a sign that said: “No Parking, 2pm to 4pm.” I looked at the time. It was ten minutes before two. And here’s what I thought:
"Great! Only ten more minutes before I can park here!"
That’s right. I saw a sign that clearly told me one thing, and my brain immediately convinced me of the opposite. I saw that sign and thought: “In ten more minutes, I’ll be allowed to park here!” instead of the truth which was: “In ten more minutes, I’ll not be allowed to park here.” And so, I sat in my car waiting for those ten minutes between 1:50 and 2:00 to go by, thinking that no one’ll give me a ticket during those ten remaining minutes if I’m in my car; I’ll just wait until it’s two o’clock (you know, when it’s safe) and then get out. (And, in a way, I was right: No one was going to give me a ticket during those ten minutes, but not because I’d be sitting in my car during what I thought were the last ten remaining minutes of illegal parking; but rather because I’d be sitting in my car during the last ten minutes of legal parking.) And so that’s what I did. I waited until 2:00 arrived, got out of my car, went to the stupid thing I had to go do, came back and there was a ticket on my windshield. Why? Because the sign said there would be. Because the perfectly clear, fundamentally straight-forward wording of that sign said there would be. And my brain misread it. I had purposefully waited ten minutes UNTIL it became illegal to park my car in that spot. It was the most obliviously premeditated civil infraction to ever occur in the city of Santa Monica.
For this, I deserve way worse than a parking ticket. I deserve a stern talking to by any number of neighbors who saw me do it. I assume there had to have been someone: “Hey, uh, can I ask you something? A bunch of us were watching you waiting for two o’clock to come around and then you got out of your car. Why would you do that when it’s illegal to park there starting at two? Like, you left your car at the exact time you shouldn’t have. Why would you do that?”
And it would be hard for me to answer through the sobs.
Saw a ghost on the A train last night. Oh, and like you didn’t? So not scary. Quite matter of fact really. “What is that?” someone asked. “Thassa ghost,” some kid wearing three hundred dollars worth of endorsements said. “Of who?” someone asked. “Ya MOMS!” another kid yelled. And everyone laughed. This was one of the few ghosts that everyone can see. Usually when a ghost turns up, there’s a select few who can even see it. Not this ghost. This was an equal opportunity see-able ghost. Nothing worse than a dead extrovert. This ghost did not give a shit. The whole train was like: “Check out that ghost.” It wouldn’t say boo. Literally. It just sat there going: “You like my new belt, bro?” I saw no belt. It probably didn’t say bro, but it was talking about a belt. And kinda drunk. Do ghosts drink? I don’t know. This spirit had had some spirits: slunked back, crumpled and southbound, possibly passed out. What’s the point of being a ghost if you’re going to be passed out on a southbound A train late at night? When I die and I find out my afterlife is just riding around on a late night southbound A train to Brooklyn in late July, I’m gonna be all: “I could’ve had this when I was alive.” I mean, knowing that, why die?
This photo is of either a lackadaisical racist (a guy who couldn’t even bother to cut holes in his sheet) or the worst ghost in the history of death.
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