The Pursuit of Happiness

For crying out loud, we live in a country where "the pursuit of happiness" is written into the Declaration of Independence. We live in the land of Happy Meals. Happy Meals. You know, there are people living, barely, on this planet for whom a Happy Meal is when they find an extra dung beetle in their bowl of roots and twigs. I mean, c'mon, in a lot of those countries, fast food is a gazelle. So why, in this land of freedom and plenty, are we loaded to the gills with Zoloft? Why do more people miss work yearly due to depression than to any other physical malady? Why are we such alcoholic, sex-and-drug addicted, bingeing-and-purging, compulsively gambling, ulcer-ridden basket cases?

Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but most Americans are sadder than Bob Vila's neighbor trying to sleep in.

I believe that as we grow up, we are actually taught to be unhappy. We are shown what we don't have, we learn that society places value on accumulating material possessions, and we find out that success means winning an award. Happiness and satisfaction go hand in hand and we can never be satisfied because goals have been set for us that are higher than the entire front row at Reggae Sunsplash '98.

And even if you've made your peace with the material world, even if your baseball team is half a game out of first place and your family is healthy, even if you've learned to accept your lot in life and tend to your little garden, how can anybody with a shred of compassion in their soul sit through five minutes' worth of network nightly news without feeling like Sylvia Plath during a screening of Shoah while listening to Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush"?

It's a brutal world. More than ever, tragedy, violence, mayhem, and injustice seem to be the order of the day. It's almost impossible to enjoy with a clear conscience whatever little piece of tranquility you've carved out for yourself while abject misery and suffering is all over the world like phony on Kathie Lee Gifford.

You know, we have the unrealistic expectation that unless every nanosecond of our life is spend in multiorgasmic joy, we're being ripped off worse than the Von Trapp family in a New York City taxi from JFK to Manhattan.

The quest for happiness is a metaphysical game of three-card monte and we are both sucker and shill. We know we'll never find the red card, but a little voice inside makes us keep throwing down twenties. Listen up, guys and gals, you may never be any happier than you are right now. You may be richer or better-sexed or more powerful but you may never be any happier.

Our entire existence is spent yearning for what we don't have, and we're convinced that whatever it is we're missing is the one thing keeping us from perfect bliss, transcendence, nirvana, satori . . . whatever term your particular ideological affiliation uses for the state in which life truly resembles a lite beer commercial.

What makes people happy anyway? I've come to the conclusion that most people are only really happy not when something good happens to them, but when something bad doesn't happen to them. Remember how good you felt when your neighbor's house got struck by lightning because he got the new satellite dish?

We could go round and round on this all night, but that would fly in the face of what I've been trying to say all along. Happiness doesn't always require resolution.

But, rather, an in-the-moment, carefree acceptance of the fact that the worst day of being alive is much better than the best day being dead. And personally, I've never been happier than this precise moment because I just found out that an extensive two-week investigation by the federal government revealed no violations of child labor laws in the production of my new line of Dennis Miller active wear. You are gonna love my new sports bra.

Hey, happiness is not settling for less, but just not being miserable with what is. I have always lived by the creed "It's not the approval or accolades or possessions that make you smile, but simply making the left turn even though were were the third car in the intersection."

I myself have learned to love the simple things.

Nothing makes me happier than coming upstairs and finding my wife sound asleep in bed with our two children. Covering them with Grandma's quilt, going downstairs to make sure all the doors are locked, stepping out onto my wood deck to a clear summer night with every star blazing brilliantly through a balmy breeze while I contemplatively run through my head a list of anyone who was ever a cast member of Saturday Night Live and try to figure out how their career is going compared to mine.

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong

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Feminism In The ‘90’s

A Million Women’s March is being planned for mid-June here in Los Angeles, and I think that’s a great idea. And hey, ladies. While you’re all up, could you get us a beer?

Ahh, feminism in the ‘90’s. What a "What is yours and what is mine?" field. Okay, this subject is touchier than an Apple Computer stockholder who forgot to take a Xanax. I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but the feminist movement of the ‘90’s is going off in more directions than Don King’s hair in an electrical storm.

You know, to be an oubberfrow in the ‘90’s is to be as confused as Al D’Amato on Celebrity Jeopardy! Current day feminists are slapped with more labels than a telephone pole in front of a coffee house at Welsley and draw more enmity than Linda McCartney at a Tony Roama’s. They’re stereotypically portrayed as humorless, multiple cat owning, beragous, wearing shapeless home tie-dyed dresses, and car-lofting around in Doc Martins while hosting their own public access cable show called "The No Fly Zone" which is unfair because, despite the Janet Reno size strides over the past twenty years, there are still gender inequities in our society that are more glaring than a freshly buffed diamond tiara on the Bonevian Salt Flats at high noon.

Having drinks bought for you and being able to cry your way out of a speeding ticket don’t make up for lower wages, date rape, pick-up trucks with naked women silouhetted on the mud flaps, no affordable child care, happy handed boss, not being called on in class even when you know the answer, and having to take most of the responsibility for birth control.

Recently, we’re seeing women’s rights violated in places as dispert as a condo in Brentwood, California, and a Mistubishi plant in Normal, Illinois. Hey, listen. Everybody has got a right to work at their job without being bullied and humiliated. And as long as there are people out there who are so threatened, so consumed with hatred and fear that they have to use what little power they have to take those rights away from women, well you can bet your sensible boots there’s gonna be a woman’s movement. And there will always be men who are threatened by that movement.

Feminism in the ‘90’s has left in its wake a gaggle of men more flustered than Les Nesman reporting live from the MTV Malibu Beach House. And no man, no man, is more threatened than Rush Limbaugh, who is the quintessential male anti-feminist. Now, anybody who hasn’t even seen his dick in the past ten years is bound to be anti-woman.

But, while it has been slow in coming, men are, they are, finally in the process of divesting themselves of much of their undeserved and unwarranted power. Guys, we had to give it up. It was time to share the power because we were ruining everything. For the survival of out species on our planet, evolution reclaimed our crown and made us share it, because quite frankly, leaving Planet Earth in the hands of only men is like asking Moe Howard to baby-sit a colicky infant.

Anyway, while I agree with the majority of feminists causes and I admire their passion and commitment, often times their approach leaves much to be desired. But before the Earth gets a S.W.A.T. Team that comes and takes me away to the reprogramming camp for the estrogen impaired where I’ll learn to become a more nurturing, sensitive man with a developed feminine side who can bake bread and then perform foreplay for five hours at a pop, before that happens, may I put forth the following suggestions:

1. If you want your message heard, leave the rage to Alanis Morisette, okay?

Because when you’re strident, you remind us of our mums yelling at us when we do what we did to them; we ignore you.

2. Opposed as I am of violence against women, would someone ask Oddjob to please take Camiel Powe and her leopard trim Humvee out to the junkyard and place them in the compactor?

This woman is so insane, she makes Cochran’s summation speech sound like Al Gore reading his grocery list.

And 3. Sisters, let’s be more inclusive of different approaches to this thing.

Many of today’s younger women have become alienated from the feminist movement because of the extreme messages being sent by its more vociferous leaders. No one likes to be told they’re a traitor because they quit their job to stay home with the baby, or like to wear high heels and make-up. You can’t spend every nanosecond of life trying to elevate the gender. There has to be room for compromise for allowing for differences between women. We need to respect Shannon Faulkner and Shannon Tweed.

Now look, I’m not trying to sell you a carton of Virginia Slims here, but listen to me. Yes, women still find doors shut tighter than a Jehovah’s Witness approaching Mark Furman’s house. And yes, yes, most corporate headquarters have more glass ceilings than Carl Sagan’s townhouse. But for women to fixate only on what they haven’t accomplished without stepping back to marvel at how quickly and far they have advanced in the past twenty years is gonna make them feel more fucked over than lining up for two hours to see a taping of Mike and Maddy to only discover that Maddy’s been sidelined by the flu.

You know what I want? I want to live in a world where women are allowed to fail as badly as men and then get a better job and a raise just like men. And I’m hoping you’ll remember that I said that and I was always on your side ‘cause I don’t wanna be hurt in the coming revolution.

And by the way, don’t you all look sexy in your little uniforms?

Of course, that’s just my wife’s opinion. I could be wrong.

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O. J.

OJ Simpson - on his way to England to speak. He said "England is very similar to America except they have their low-speed chases on the other side of the road over there." Things are a little bit different over there: Trucks are ‘Lorreys’ , elevators are ‘Lifts’, and OJ Simpson ....’is a double murderer’.

Now I don’t want to get off on a rant here but it’s about time to put the bronco in reverse and take a long slow look back at the trial of the century. Since October 3rd, 1995 the verdict in the OJ Simpson trial has reverberated in America’s consciousness like the last cord of "A day in the life" played on a perpetual tape loop inside a squash court. No amount of psychic sorbet seems to be able to be able to cleanse our collective palate of the nasty taste left by L’affair Simpson. It lingers as stubbornly and unpleasantly as a drunken party guest, passed out on the couch, with an open bottle of Hi-Karate in his pocket. The questions that it’s raised nag at us like Norman Bates’ mom on a rainy sunday. The Simpson jury didn’t really hand down their decision, more like it pulled its pin and lobbed it at us. When the verdict was read people did more double-takes than professor Irwin Corey at a Hawaiin Tropic competition.

And what have we learned from the trial? Now that we’ve chewed it over like Bob Dole gumming a wad of month-old salt water taffy? Well, we’ve learned that the only way you’ll ever get at trial by a jury of your peers in this country is if you happen to be ill-informed and pre-disposed. I think some of these people made their minds up before the murder even happened! We also learned that if you’re a black lawyer and you take a case prosecuting a black man for a crime that you know in your heart that he commited, well that automatically makes you a sellout to your race. And we learned that if you’re convicted wife-beater it’s OK to disgrace your dead spouse’s memory by giving sworn testimony in a deposition where you say (use whining tone of voice) "She hit me first". We also learned that empirical evidence doesn’t seem to matter anymore. The sea of blood on the killer’s hands and bronco was so deep that it had its own undertow. The evidence was more overwhelming that a New York City taxi in August with all the windows shut. And how did ‘team OJ’ combat this K2 sized mountain of proof ? Well, the defense’s stradegy involved more smoke and mirrors than a tire fire in a brothel.

Well, you know something - they DIDN’T convince me because even if you martinize away all the blood, you’re still left with a womanizing, wife-beating, egotistical, drug-using, posessive bully and just for that I think he should be locked away tighter than Gordon Elliot’s cumberbund at the 37th annual daytime emmy awards!

You know, I blame alot of what happened at the trial on Lance Ito.

A judge is supposed to control a trial, but Ito had about as much control of the room as Kathie Lee Gifford singing "You Light Up My Life" at the Apollo Theater ! Oh well, it’s gone, Ito’s gone, there’s a new ringmaster now. The circus has died down but hasn’t completely pulled out of the station. OJ Simpson is currently embroiled in a wrongful death civil suit which could eat up whatever money he’s got left from the last trial that his jackals for the defense didn’t make off with. The videotape he was hawking netted about as much as the Philly cheese steak concession at a K.D. Lange concert. His lame attempts at reviving his lagging career and his destroyed credibility are as transparent as a Vargas girl’s nightgown. And so , what’s an OJ to do? Hey, that book he wrote where he was supposed to answer people’s questions did pretty well, maybe he could write an advice column called "Dear Stabby". You know, at this point it almost doesn’t seem to matter to anyone anymore that OJ did it - it’s become just another punch line. He plotted it, he planned it, he worked out all the timing, his escape route, his alibi, and the only unscheduled stumbling blocks he had to improvise around were Kato wanting to go talk to the big clown, and Ron Goldman wanting not to die! But like he once did with linebackers who stood between him and the end-zone OJ got by them. In the words of the NFL films announcer: "On that warm June day a fierce warrior had a mission. That warrior was Orenthal James Simpson. A man possesed, a man who was not to be denied. He pulled a fancy stutter-step on Kato then he squared his shoulders and ran right over Ron Goldman. Penalty flags were thrown, but upon further review the referees in black & white striped shirts turned out to be referees in white shirts and referees in black shirts."

I freely admit to feeling cheated that OJ Simpson didn’t get life for his crimes. That he probably will never be brought to his arthritic knees. I assauage my anger by reassuring myself that he will never again elicit the respect and admiration of reasonable people. That he’ll always be whispered about like some latter-day Hester Prynne wearing an "M" instead of an "A". And that he will always be surrounded by back-slappers, sycophants, ass-kissing golfing buddies, and coke whores who are looking to thrill-fuck a murderer. Hey, you know what folks? I think he DID get life. Yeah he did. You’re our "bitch" now OJ. Of course that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong........

But of course he’s not. And that’s MY opinion !

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Abortion

Now I don't want to get off on a rant here, because basically tonight's topic is a minefield - Abortion. I couldn't be anymore on tiptoes if the show was being produced by George Balanchine. This is the Big Debate, and I'm talking bigger than who was the better Darren on Bewitched. Abortion is our nation's "Final Jeopardy," and I'll wager, Alex, that if our nation fights another Civil War, it will be about this. And I would remind you that this all from my perspective, the male perspective, a one-step-removed perspective, because I will obviously never have to decide on whether or not I should have an abortion. And by the way, my belief is that if men were the ones getting pregnant, abortions would be easier to get than food poisoning in Moscow. Having men decide the fate of a woman's reproductive system makes about as much sense as asking Quentin Crisp to coach the Raiders. All right, enough qualifying, let's get on with it. There's no doubt that passions run high on both sides, and this issue has created a divide in this country not seen since Carly Simon last yawned in public. The prevailing opinions on a woman's freedom to choose are going further to the right than a Greg Norman tee shot.

Pro-life activists attempt to paint anyone pro-choice as having no morals. On the other side of the ledger, pro-choicers are tagging pro-lifers as crazed and backward bible-thumpers bent on running the lives of the people who disagree with them. The truth, as always, is, the case of human endeavors lies somewhere in between. As much as the advance scouts on either side of this issue might not want to admit it, good people do get abortions and other good people are pained by their decision to get one.

Where do I stand? Well, I'm like most of you, I presume, I think there are far too many abortions performed in this country. And I also believe that at the end of the day, as much as I might disapprove, none of them are really any of my business. Look, there are always going to be arguments on this issue. The debate will rage until the end of time no matter what the whim of the Papal infallibility or the politics of the decade. But the simple truth is, that such a passionate and personal decision dictates that the choice be left to the individual. And you know, that's really all we can do, because we're just human beings, stumbling around in the dark, trying to get to the bathroom and kicking the shit out of our shins on the way there.

Now there's some things all right-minded human beings should agree on. We should all agree that abortions should be legal in the case of rape, incest and when the mother's life is at risk -- that's just common sense. But excluding that obvious assumption, everything else in the abortion arena is "in play." There are many quagmires complicating this issue. Religion. Now it seems that religion is most often the backboard for every bank shot put up by someone making it their business to get into your business. Roman Catholic doctrine forbids abortion. Fine. Take that into consideration when you make your decision. Right-to-life proponents contend that abortion is immoral. Fine. Take that into consideration when you make your decision. Another pothole on the road to a sensible resolution to abortion is "when does life begin?" At conception? When a heartbeat is detected? At the first drawn breath? You know, for me it wasn't until last Tuesday. Until then I was just a sperm with an accountant! Okay, so those are the variables, and there are obviously millions more variables that make each individual case unique. But the more you think about it, and the more it makes your head spin, and the more confused you get trying to figure out someone else's life for them, it becomes increasingly apparent that it has to be the call of the individual who is pregnant, because the collective, one way or another, won't have to suffer the consequences of that most personal of all decisions.

My fellow Americans, it is time to suck it up. Look deep into your immortal soul (if you believe you have one) and do the right thing. Have the courage and strength to live your own life, by your own standards, and stop trying to call the shots for everyone else. We all live with glaring inconsistencies, and sometimes, when you see something going on right in front of you that offends you to the very core of your being, sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away, because you know that's exactly what you would want them to do for you. There's only one judge on all this and that's God. And you don't get to meet him until you go backstage after the play is over. And believe me, you do not want to get a "thumbs down" from the guy who created thumbs, all right? In the interim, everybody has got to tend their own garden vis-a-vis abortion. And remember, when it comes to your body, only you wear the robes, and only you carry the gavel.

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

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Animal Rights

Can I be so bold as to advance the radical notion that humans earn rights by living by a commonly accepted set of rules, and all you have to do is go to the zoo and watch the monkeys spend their day whacking off right in front of you to know they just don't play by our rules. All you can do is just stand there, saying, come on, give it a rest, Zippy, no wonder it's red.

Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but I was viewing a nature documentary on PBS with my son the other night. I wanted to impart into young Simba a sense of awe for the harmony of the cosmos. But as we watched the lion gnawing on a still-breathing gazelle while vultures lingered stoically for their shot at the fly-riddled carrion, it occurred to me that it might be better to install the V chip after all.

Because upon witnessing footage so savage that it would have ended up on Sam Peckinpah's cutting room floor, I recognized that on our worst day humans are eminently more good-natured than animals. Ever see a cat with a mouse? It makes Charlie Manson look like Mike Farrell.

And yet there are people out there, sane, rational beings who insist that humans should render unto animals all the basic rights. Rights, it would appear, ninety-nine percent of humanity doesn't even luxuriate in.

So to be evenhanded, what are some of the specifics of the animal rights argument?

Some claim that animals should not be exploited for entertainment purposes. Activists maintain that show business is demeaning to animals. Hey, it's show business, it's supposed to be demeaning. I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm not exactly doing Ibsen here, all right.

And come to think of it, I'm an animal. Where were the animal rights people when I signed my contract to be in that fucking Rebecca De Mornay film a while back?

You know the animal activists are antifur, and this has caused many fashion designers to now claim that they also are against fur because they care about the plight of animals, especially the ones that have been preapproved for the Platinum Card. Hey, if you designers are so altruistic, why don't you stop having your jeans sewn in Guatemalan sweat shops by fourteen-year-old girls who make twenty dinari for a sixteen-hour day and get to pee less frequently than the guy in the middle seat on a wide-body L-1011 that's heading to sumo camp?

And while we're at it, what makes the fashion industry think that the opinions of these supermodels has more weight or importance simply because they happened to hit the pick six in the genetic lottery?

And by the way, when did supermodels start talking?

And the animal rights lobby also preaches vegetarianism to varying degrees. Look, the philosophy behind shunning meat for moral reasons has more loopholes than Steve Forbes's long form, all right. Animal rights activists believe that as the most evolved carbon-based entity on the planet, we have a responsibility to coexist in harmony with our feathered, finned, and furred pals rather than forcing them to serve our needs.

Yeah, and I'm sure that if I were wandering naked across the Serengeti Plain and happened to come across a pride of lions who were feeling peckish, they'd show me the same fucking courtesy. Come on, in less time than it takes to say "two all-Miller patties" I'd be chili con carnage.

Now, of course there are some commonsense things that we can do right away to improve our relationship with the animal kingdom.

1. Don't feed your dog peanut butter. Unless, of course, the cable goes out for a few seconds.

2. After blowing marijuana smoke into your cat's mouth, make sure there is plenty of accessible string nearby.

3. Cockfights are bad. I don't think that there is an American out there who doesn't strongly believe that we need stricter cockfight regulation. I know all of us have taken our kids to the local cockfight and thought, "Man, these basement arenas are just not being kept up." Remember how great cockfights used to be when we were kids? Now they don't even get the names of the cocks right in the program. Cockfighting has just gotten way too commercial.

All right, so much for the dispassionate sarcasm. On the other side of the menu, I mean ledger, I don't think it's right to test cosmetics by trying them on animals first. Bugs Bunny's proclivity for dressing in drag to dupe Elmer Fudd notwithstanding, rabbits as a species aren't especially fond of being forced to wear more makeup than RuPaul at Mardi Gras. However, if we're talking essential medical research that will save human lives, well, I don't give a rat's ass about ... a rat's ass. You know, if it's between my heart or a gorilla's ... sorry, Koko. It's been nice signing with you.

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. That's from Trek. Pretty cool, huh?

As long as there are Pomeranians in this country who live better than segments of the two-legged population, the animal rights activists' arguments are about as water-tight as the set of A Night to Remember.

Call it karma, call it luck of the biological draw, call it whatever you want to call it, Dr. Doolittle, but in the interspecies battle of the bands, humans rock the hardest. Now, get over it.

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

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Generation X (Youth)

Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but isn't it about time we got off generation X's tattooed back? It's no wonder Xers are angst-ridden and rudderless. They feel America's greatness has passed. They got to the cocktail party twenty minutes too late and all that's left are those little wieners and a half-empty bottle of Zima.

So that's why they're threatened. But why do we find them so threatening? I thought we were a little hipper than that. Or at least we were when we were their age.

You must remember that then, as now, it remains the single most important function of a generation to irk the living shit out of the generation immediately preceding it.

Screw the old squares, listen to a faster beat, wear a wider cuff, get a Beavis and Gingrich tattoo, change. Life is about change. More than that, life is like riding the bus, it requires change.

The so-called generation X has gotten a bad rap for being whiners. But people in their twenties have always been whiners. People in their twenties should be whiners. They are to whining what Pavarotti is to ... uh ... uh ... Tommy. Okay, I don't know opera.

The reason you whine is that you've just popped out of the cozy, beer-filled amniotic sac of academia.

You haven't developed the prerequisite thick hide of the cynical, callused bastard yet, and your future seems bleaker than Ingmar Bergman listening to an acoustic set performed by Leonard Cohen.

Add to the angst bouillabaisse the current prospects of a flatlining economy, an environment that's choking to death on its own shit, and a sexual atmosphere that's about as warm, safe, and inviting as a Zagreb bunker. Christ, if I were in my twenties now, I'd be bitching so hard, I'd make Beck sound like Tony Newley.

Additionally, this generation of young adults is being forced to experience every coltish fumble of their coming of age with the media doing a hushed, reverentially breathless play-by-play. It's kinda like if Dr. Frankenstein gave a running commentary of what the monster was doing all day.

What's the result of all that scrutiny? It would appear, mass-marketed nonconformity. The Real World holding auditions. Auditions. For the fucking "real world." Everyone's so busy playing to the cameras that nobody's creating anything. That's why they use all of our stuff. The Brady Bunch, platform shoes, Tony Bennett.

They suffer from generational performance anxiety because we baby boomers are constantly pounding our chests about our salad days. To hear us tell it, the late sixties and early seventies were a time where between orgies everybody got together and put on Woodstock. Then, between band breaks, we put a stop to an unjust war and brought a rogue chief executive officer to his knees, all the while smoking the most incredible cheap herb in the history of the dilated planet.

You know, they heard all about the free love of the sixties and seventies. But now it's the nineties, the balloon payment is due, and their generation has to pay the mortgage. Instead of casual sex, they have precautionary sex. Nothing ruins the mood during foreplay more than the recurring image of your sixty-five-year-old homeroom teacher trying to stretch a condom over a cucumber.

So believe me, I understand the origins of their discontent. And I empathize. Having said that, I'll be damned if I know what makes these kids tick.

It appears their personal philosophy places a great deal of value on getting so many body piercings that you begin to look like you fell down a flight of stairs carrying a tackle box.

Body-piercing. A powerful, compelling visual statement that says "Gee ... in today's competitive job market, what can I do to make myself even more unemployable?"

Fashion is an interesting sword when wielded by disaffected youth. Any guy that remembers being a teenager knows that many youthful uprisings take place in pants, so the practicality of wearing them so big you could smuggle a hard-on the size of a beagle is not lost on me.

Well, what else is important to them? As far as stimulants go, both of our generations know the feeling of jonesing for product from Colombia; it's just that their product is coffee.

And by the way, is it asking too much to be able to drink a cup of joe in public without having to listen to some malcontent working out their issues, next to me? It's bad enough that these coffeehouses all seem to have purchased their furniture at the same Dresden fire sale, and when the guy who's been occupying a table for the entire time he's been growing his goatee finally gets up and clears away his journal and his clove cigarettes and his Tibetan worry beads and you can finally sit down, you realize that the table is wobbling because one leg is so much shorter than all the others that the only thing that would balance it is a hardcover copy of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, and you're finally enjoying your cafe whatever and your triple-berry chocolate-chip six-grain scone when some chick with a buzz cut wearing cat's-eye sunglasses, an orange-and-avocado-green feathered JoAnne Worley "sock-it-to-me" dress, and combat boots stands up front and starts reading a poem she wrote about the first guy who ever felt her up.

All right, so I just tipped my hand. Maybe I'm not as comfy with these kids as I let on. Maybe it's true. Maybe there is a gap between the baby boomers and the generation Xers that makes the Khyber Pass look like the eye of a needle. How did that happen?

Well, I'll tell you how it happened. It happened because we have become our parents, the caretakers of the status quo, set in our ways, afraid of change, prattling on and on about our Ford Windstars while tapping our feet to Wang Chung in our dentist's waiting room.

Look, sure Xers are pissed, and they're just beginning to understand that it's because we owe them and we haven't said a damn word about it. It's like that friend who owes you money but makes you feel like an asshole for bringing it up.

Well, trust me, fellow elders, it's time to brace up and get ready because natural progression dictates that they'll get over their shyness soon and start banging on our doors like a shortchanged Chinese takeout guy. They are our ghosts of Christmas past, and if you listen closely you can hear them rattling their nose chains.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, except for the Doc Martens and the purple hair.

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

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The Single Life (Being Single)

Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but I'm glad my single days are over.

Sure I hear guys talking about personal freedom. How they don't have to answer to anybody and how they're meeting all sorts of new people. But the grim reality is that scientists estimate that the average American male spends a full four days of his single life hearing the phrase "Pull the car over, asshole, I'm walking."

There's so much paranoia and mistrust between the sexes, it makes the war room in Dr. Strangelove look like the Jacuzzi at Plato's Retreat.

Sure, everybody loves the show Friends, but, come on, that's not singles reality. In the real singles world you live in an apartment the size of Billy Barty's walk-in closet with three roommates who are flakier than a Greek pastry placed on Wally George's shoulder. Roommates who two weeks into the relationship tell you they spent their rent money on a QVC alabaster statuette of Hermann Goring that they are hollowing into a bong. While striving for independence, you begin to realize that you've become a day care center for a bunch of lazy sleep farmers.

So let's just say that Friends, while it's a great show, is not exactly a reconnaissance photo of the day-to-day machinations of the solo life. That being said, it's a lot better than the single people I saw on TV growing up. Eb, Jethro, Tony Nelson, and Major Healy. No wonder my single life seemed to go on forever. I was walking around in an Elmer Fudd hat and a rope belt looking for a genie to blow me.

For me, dating was like a casting call for America's Most Wanted. I once dated a girl who was so twisted, her personalities formed their own softball league.

My life was emptier than Richard Harris's minibar at the Chateau Marmont.

I was so desperate when I told my friends: "Hey, there are other fish in the sea," I meant other fish. Folks, what I'm saying is, I fucked saltwater seafood. Wasn't proud of it then. Not proud of it now. As a matter of fact, I probably wouldn't have brought it up if this rant wasn't running a little short.

Not that the women who dated me had it easy either. When I eventually did get a date, I got so excited, I looked like Martini when he finally got the boat ride in Cuckoo's Nest.

Toward the end of my single life I was frozen with fear about how to even go about meeting my soul mate. I mean, c'mon, singles bars? Do you know how hard it was for me to keep a straight face while some stoner broad told me what she thought Pink Floyd meant on The Dark Side of the Moon?

Personal ads? I just don't know if I'd be comfortable trying to communicate with my future spouse the same way the cops contacted the Zodiac Killer in Dirty Harry.

And, of course, the newest way for singles to meet each other is through their home computers, on-line. And I don't want to burst your bubble, Spanky-dot-com, but, uh, y'know all those succulent Hawaiian Tropic chicks you think you're trading fantasies with are actually fifty-year-old fat guys who make Abe Vigoda look like Marcus Schenkenberg. Forget computers. Humans need physical contact. I'll take the clap over carpal tunnel syndrome any day.

And, single people, if you still don't get it, I'll translate it for the commitment-impaired. Marriage is a never-ending series of one-night stands.

And I'm on the biggest hot streak of my life. So forget single, wake up and smell the stranger next to you. Marriage is the last step of personal evolution. It is the opposable thumb of human intimacy. So come out of the ape cage and give Darwin your phone number, dammit!

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

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Liberals

Now I dont want to get off on a rant here but...You know, there used to be two parties- Democrat and Republican, and, separate from that, two schools of political thought. Anybody remember liberal Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney? Today, a liberal Republican is one who thinks a condemned man getting death by injection should be laid out on a comfy mattress.

The word "liberal" has replaced "Communist" as the red flag neo-conservatives wave in your face to denote what's wrong in this country. People are even making me out a liberal, when I'm actually a pragmatist, which means I think everybody is an asshole but me.

With the threat of communism gone, the power elite no longer has to be on its best behavior. And right now, you have as good a chance of seeing tolerance from them as you do Newt Gingrich dirty dancing with Harvey Fierstein.

Remember Mario Cuomo's speech at the '84 Democratic Convention? It was a stunning bolt of lightning that, if only for a brief moment, galvanized the American spirit in the hearts and minds of its people. It was electrifying prose fueled by brains, guts, and compassion, and it made you proud to be an American. Now compare that to the only memorable Republican speech of the last decade- Pat Buchanan's derisive, petty, hate-filled diatribe at the '92 GOP convention. There may not be a member of the current crop of American conservatives who could match Cuomo's speech. I think they lack the compassion. Their consience doesn't seem to bother them enough.

So, as far as the nuts-and-bolts legislative details are concerned, liberalism is probably dead, and it doesn't look like a whole lot of us are going to be at that wake. But when it comes to the ongoing battle over reshaping this ethereal thing we call the American spirit, well, liberalism had better be very much alive and breathing fire, or we have truly lost our way as a nation.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

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Power

Power is living in a mansion for 30 years and never really knowing where the kitchen is. Power is walking around with your fly open, and everybody thinking you're a fashion trend-setter.

Power is the most sought after, addictive, seductive, abused drug there is. Compared to Power, crack is Fruitopia.

You know, I don't want to get off on a rant here:

But I'll wager that human beings fantasize about power than they do any- thing else.

Wealth, fame, making the winning play for their favorite team, leg- wrestling Rue Mclannahan while her strong support stocking calves pressing firmly against my......I'm sorry...where were we?

Oh right. Power.

Ok. Let's talk about Power. How to get it, what to do with it, when to use it, and most importantly where to store it and at what temperature. because make no mistake my friends, Power is a perishable good.

Now I may currently appear to have power, but, if you really think about it, I'm a mindless fuckchimp for HBO. At any moment they could back up a costume van, pull out the Pillsbury dough boy suit and order me to get into it. And then what?

Well...nothing says good lovin' like something from the oven!

heeeeheeee....that's what!

At the end of the day I've got all the power of that highway construction worker who can't be trusted with any moving-part machinery because he took a crane hook to the temple in 1989, and they changed his name to Slappy and now he has to stand there all day with a reversible sign that says stop & go, until the weekend where his friends invite him to parties and make him dance by shooting pelletguns at his feet.

Little autobiographical note there....so.....

So while I obviously don't have power who does? Well, let's define the different degrations of power. First, there's real power. The tornado ripping up 100 year old oak tree and picking it's teeth with it. Then there's real human power. High grade political power. At the top of this heap it's a pure uncut china Whitehouse jolt right into the arm that has it's finger on the button.

Do you think Bill Clinton doesn't like the power of being President? Do you think he doesn't sit there in the oval office for hours saying to himself: "This is the finger that could blow up the world, and it's the same finger I use to scratch my ass?"

Next, you have midrange corporate power. That flawless cynergistic weaving of money and clout that allows a select few to meet in smoke filled back rooms and literally change the course of human history while the rest of us are waiting in line for a kid to ask: "Do you want fries with that"?

And Finally there's pretend power. The supposed ability of a person to lead a flock of sheep to new heights where there unfortunately usually they find a shearing pen.

Who has this power? Jimmy Swagart, Amway, Dionne Warwick, Barney, Rush.

How'd they get it? Well you gave it to them for Christ's sake! Stop doing that. Go to Starbuck's, get a quadra'late' and wake the fuck up!

So those are the different kinds of power. The only other thing you need to know is that we all crave power. Whether it's heading a major entertainment company, or just spraying that cockroach in your kitchen with a steady stream of raid and pretending you're Red Adaire on a blazing oil platform in the middle of the Caspian Sea.

Face it, we all get off on power. Even if we only have a little of it. Do you think that clerk at the DMV doesn't enjoy looking at that serpentine line and thinking I gotta be here 8 hours...Fuck You...you're here for 8 hours!

Power is the nutritional source that feeds the ego and of course we all know that the ego is the ugly little troll that lives under the bridge between your mind and you heart. You keep a stranglehold on that fact.

I don't the that the desire for power is necessarily a bad thing. I'd say it's encoded into our DNA for a damned good reason.

After all, in the prehistoric days, when we humans dwelled in caves, and the neighbor's pet raptor got off it's leash and shit on your yard and ate your cave-son, you sure as hell needed a big stick. You couldn't go running to Johnny Rochran or whatever they called the neighborhood ultra- smooth bullshit artist back then.

So, to all you out there who are constantly whining about how to get power, you can start by not giving away any of yours. Don't send 20 bucks to some porcelain eye liner junkie who claims she can get you into heaven. That chick can't even get you into Cosco. There's only on guy who can get you into heaven and that's god, or Buddha, or Eisner, or whatever the hell he's called himself these days.

Of course that is just my opinion...I could be wrong!

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Activism

We are a nation of procrastinators, aren't we? Activism in the midst of a passive period, and that's a shame because activists, throughout the years, have been able to alter the course of history. They advanced civil rights for African Americans, they protected the rights of the worker, they saved the whales from being extinct, and they once kept "Spencer for Hire" on for a whole extra season. And, I'm a "big" Bobby Urich fan.

I don't want to get off on a rant here, but it seems the activism times they are a changing. Increasingly, we've become such a nation of self-obsessed "me" monkeys that most of us feel like we've done our good deed for the day if we pull over and make a complete stop when an ambulance passes. And also the tone of present-day activism seems to have turned for the worst. There's nothing more unbecoming than somebody who's pathologically rabid about an issue that, in the long run, is cosmically inconsequential. To the overzealous I say, "Stop being so selfish and work your rage out in your personal relationships like the rest of us, okay?" I'll be honest with you. There are times I'd like to shout, "Shut the fuck up and stop blocking traffic with your 'Save the Headlights' rally, asshole!" Sometimes . . . Sometimes it's hard not to think, "Hey, could I please just eat my Cherry Garcia without some aging Vermont ice cream hippies constantly reminding me how bad the rain forests are doing?" "Hey, boys, as far as the rain forest goes, does a bear give a shit in the woods, okay?"

But every time I go to turn my back on activism I remember that in the sixties a bunch of college kids brought about the end of a profane war and helped boot out a corrupt President. Activism got results. People felt empowered. The '60s were the "Us Generation." The '70s, however, were the "Me Generation." And the '80s? Well, the '80s were the "Me-Me-Me generation" where cruel got confused with hip, serious with smart, attitude with belief, and the Mercedes emblem with the Peace sign.

Now it's the '90s. We've gone from the Red Cross handing out coffee at floods to Ricki Lake and the freak patrol blitzing Karl Lagerfeld's office and chaining themselves to the Poland Spring dispenser. When did minks become more important than people? I've watched individuals in New York City step over fellow human beings laying in their own piss to spit on somebody who's wearing chinchilla. And now they pretend to spit on you if you wear fake fur.

How far are we going to go with this bullshit, kids? Now the mink is everybody's precious cause celebre. The Jack Henry Abbot of forest creatures. How hard could a mink's life be? He's wearing fucking mink! Trust me, if the roles were reversed, he'd be wearing your pelt, okay? ] So when you hit your knees tonight, thank your walking, upright god it played out the way it did.

Now to me, Paul Newman does activism the right way. Makes delicious popcorn, salad dressing, marinara sauce, and then he mentions it in small print that the profits from this enterprise are going to charity. He sneaks it by you instead of ramming it down your throat, running his whole operation with a truly cool hand.

Remember, there's a fine line between activism and just being a pain in the ass. But trying too hard is probably preferable to not trying at all. Believe me, we're all guilty of laying in the hammock, myself included. I'm about as societally active as J. D. Salinger during hay fever season because, quite frankly, it's a tad dangerous to get involved nowadays. There are forces of evil out there--powerful politicians, multi-national corporations, Dick Clark--that would love that would love for us to become complacent. The complacent, blond, Illiacuriarcan tribe from H. G. Wells' "Time Machine."

And does activism even make a difference at the end of the day? Is there a happy ending? Well, hey, I'm one of the more pessimistic cats on the planet. I make Van Gogh look like a fucking rodeo clown, and with reluctance, I will say this: When you get involved, most probably it'll suck for awhile. It'll be hard work with unclear results. But you know something? So what. That's life in all its glory. Life is not a movie. The right thing to do is to simply get in the game. The price of apathy is too high to pay. Remember "We Are the World?" You want to see Dan Akroyd singing again? If only to prevent something like that from ever, ever recurring, please, get up off your ass, put some goddamn underwear on, and go do something.

Of course that is just my opinion...I could be wrong!

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