Rosa Louise Parks – 1913 – 2005

Aquarian Weekly 11/9/05 REALITY CHECK


Rosa Louise ParksPeople always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in. – Rosa Louise Parks

She said no.

It was logical, courageous, and a bit disruptive. It was eventually measured defiant and consequently criminal. No, she said. No. She was not going to get up from her seat on the bus for no white guy or black guy or fat guy or some other guy. And it was less about race and it was even less about gender or timing or the fact that the bus idled in the town of Montgomery, Alabama and not New York City or Los Angeles or Chicago or Butte, Montana. Rosa Lee Parks was tired. She was there first. This was her seat, not anyone else’s. She paid for it, and she was not giving it up.


Feet hurt. Got a seat. Paid in full. Not going to take it from her. No, sir. Not you or anyone.

She was tired, all right. She was tired of the whole bus business and the Jim Crow business and the American business of “Liberty and Justice for Some.” And she was tired because since she was a little girl she watched buses pass her by for school. She could see the white people dressed in their finery sitting comfortably.

She was damned tired from attempting to cast a vote in three elections before her vote was counted. She struggled just to be included in the 7% of black high school graduates nationwide. She kept silent as she was passed over for work time and again, while the comfortable white bus passengers took a job she was more than qualified to handle.

She was tired of being tired.

So she said no.

No good reason. No sensible explanation. Law? No. Race? No. Pride? No. She was just tired. Staying put.

Eight years before her bus seat became the most famous seat on any mode of transportation in the history of human dignity, Rosa Lee dove into the Civil Rights movement. That was 1943, when the Civil Rights movement was something of a faint murmur. In the South, it was like breathing under water. And this was when her country was busy freeing people of other nations, while her people were not free. Nowhere close to free.

A few months before her bus seat became the most discussed instrument in the pantheon of democracy, a 15-year-old girl by the name of Claudette Colvin refused to give up a bus seat to a white man. Imagine that. What a coincidence. Not so much. Colvin was counseled by Rosa Lee. Rosa told her to “always do what is right.” Little Claudette did, and she was hauled off to prison.

It was Colvin, not Rosa Louise Parks, who should have been the shining symbol of Civil Rights, but turns out Little Claudette was pregnant with the child of a much older man out of wedlock, and in 1955 Alabama, many who ran the movement felt this subject to be anything but sympathetic. So there was little hubbub for Little Claudette, but Rosa Lee did not forget.

She was, after all, tired.

She did not forget that the bus driver on the day her seat became the most famous seat in the fight for equality, James Blake, was the very same one that forced her to walk five miles in a driving rain because she entered through the “white front door”. Rosa Lee remembered how tired she was then. She remembered the humiliation then. Decided she was tired of being tired.

December 1, 1955, Rosa Louise Parks was asked to vacate a seat in the middle section of the bus, the section open to African Americans only if there were no Caucasian Americans present. This was law; Section 301 (31a, 31b and 31c) of Title 48, Code of Alabama, 1940 and Sections, 10 and 11 of Chapter 6 of the Code of the City of Montgomery to be exact.

It so happens on that day when a Caucasian American wanted her aisle seat, she politely moved to the window seat. Why not? She would kindly do the same for anyone; black, white, fat, tall, dumb, rich or poor. But damned if Rosa Lee was going to leave the window seat. No good reason. No sensible explanation. Law? No. Race? No. Pride? No. She was just tired. Staying put.

She said no.

And so Rosa Louise Parks was dragged off to prison. But unlike Little Claudette, she was married and not with child. She was employed, articulate, motivated, politically savvy, and experienced in the denial of basic rights granted by the United States Constitution. Most of all she was beyond tired. In another words she was trouble – trouble, and the perfect subject for change.

Three days later a minister from the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church by the name of Martin Luther King rose up from his chair in the Montgomery Improvement Association and helped plot the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The following months some 40,000 black commuters walked in the cold and snow to honor it, for many it meant 20 miles or more. The transit company stalled and began to crack. It was simple: Lift segragation or prepare for bankrupcy.

Nearly a year later the United States Supreme Court banned segregation on buses. Only then was the boycott lifted. There was still a long way to go, but it was a start. Thanks to a brave and fed up woman who was simply, irrevocably, vehemently, immovably tired.

So she said no.

No, she said.


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Stacey Campfield, BallBuster Supreme

Aquarian Weekly 10/5/05 REALITY CHECK


Stacey CampfieldI am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos – especially activity that seems to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road toward freedom. – Jim Morrison

I have a new hero. His name is Stacey Campfield, a Republican lawmaker from the state of Tennessee. Campfield is a major league ballbuster. Coming as no shock to the readers of this space, ballbusting, especially world-class ballbusting, is one of my favorite past times. Some might dub it a hobby of sorts. I consider it more a way of life than a hobby or past time really, a religion, you might say. But ballbusting has become something of a crusade for Campfield, who has boldly taken to petitioning the state’s Black Caucus for inclusion. Campfield, you see, is white. Very white. Very southern white. His blog states emphatically that he loves the Bible and cites his favorite activities as karate, scuba diving, real estate and fencing. He left out mayonnaise and the Gap.

Okay, so Campfield is a blonde blue-eyed WASP, who just happens to want to join the Black Caucus in Knoxville. What’s the big deal?

Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Johnny Shaw, lacking a keen sense of irony, has described Campfield as an oddball, crazy, and a racist, and strongly believes he just “wants to mess with somebody”. You can’t blame Shaw for not warming to Campfield’s high jinks. He’s an African American from Tennessee. He deals with enough shit. Not to mention that Shaw is old enough to chair a caucus, so he likely remembers when he was prohibited from eating at the same local diner as guys like Campfield.

For his part Campfield argues that when he endeavored to procure information on how the group spends its money and, failing this, obtain a list of its bylaws, a labor he insists was born of curiosity, he was refused. He had to be a member, Shaw told him. So he applied for membership, but was summarily denied, because, get this – he’s white!

That’s when Campfield decided to play the race card too. He did so by offering the KKK’s bylaws as being fairer than the Black Caucus.

This brand of homespun wackiness gets you national press.

“My understanding is that the KKK doesn’t even ban members by race,” Campfield told AP reporter Matt Gouras, adding that the KKK “has less racist bylaws” than the black lawmakers’ group.

By even top-level ballbusting standards, this is atomic. You must stand in awe of this guy. This shames even Ann Coulter and Michael Moore style antics.

By even top-level ballbusting standards, this is atomic. You must stand in awe of this guy. This shames even Ann Coulter and Michael Moore style antics.

Back on planet earth, the embattled Black Caucus bylaws begin with a simple refrain: “The regular membership shall consist of those black elected officials serving in the state Senate and House of Representatives.”

This was apparently not good enough for Campfield, nor should it be good enough for any worthwhile ballbuster. The ballbuster hopes, even prays, for boundaries and hurdles impeding the ball-bust salvo. This way it looks like the ballbuster is truly “working it”. I myself find such vagaries as logic, law, or the odd outcry an added pleasure to the ballbusting. The best of the best ballbusters had their own hindrances: Socrates, Jesus, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Gandhi, Alice Paul, Edward R. Murrow, Bobby Seale, Lenny Bruce to name a few. But they rose above them and made history.

It is unlikely Mr. Campfield’s story will survive the next hurricane watch or Bush Administration blunder, but, for now, it is making enough noise to warrant space here.

As a matter of habit or mental crudeness, I have always enjoyed those who wish to horn in on traditional parameters for social upheaval. For instance, the Gay Pride set who insist on marching as gay Irishmen in the St. Paddy’s Day Parade. I always figured parades for all-inclusive festivities, albeit silly ones, but then the city of New York banned these potential revelers from marching as gays, not merely Irishmen, just gays.

Then there are those interesting theologians, who wish to combine personal beliefs with the stringent parameters of the Catholic Church, like giddy pro-choicers who wish to keep posing as Catholic.

And the meaningless anti-activity doesn’t have to express social commentary. I especially love vegetarians who eat fish and dieters who scarf loads of low-cal cookies. What about federal emergency departments that ignore emergencies? That’s a good one.

Anyway, you get my drift.

But I pain to demean Campfield’s efforts to merely better shine a light on exclusionary tactics, or the semantics of law. For instance, boys wanting to join the Girl Scouts or vice versa, Jews allowed to golf in gentile-only country clubs or ten year old girls playing in the NFL. His is a grander stand.

As a conservative from the south, I bet he also protests the idea that school prayer and religious symbolism might exclude the sensibilities of citizens who may not worship. He probably thinks the erosion of the God thing in American society a devaluation of his rights and morals. But that can’t be right, because then he would be a hypocrite, and, again, as any reader of this space knows, we don’t suffer those gladly.

Of course, I could be wrong about Campfield. Maybe he seriously wants to participate in the Black Caucus. I fear he will face the same flack I received from the Sussex County Chapter of the Wicca Society. But I doubt it. Witches tend to make rashes appear on sensitive places and speak oddly about your aura. You do not want to ball bust witches.

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Intelligent Design Vs. Evolution

Aquarian Weekly 8/10/05 REALITY CHECK


My Friend, TerryMan was made at the end of the week’s work when God was tired. – Mark Twain

Ah…the debate over Creation. This is a good one, and apparently, now a growing topic to be meandered by school boards and the federal government. Just last week our God President chimed in for this new fangled version of Creation Theory called Intelligent Design. The push by Christian groups, now running things around here, is to promote this Intelligent Design alongside Evolution for a practical theory of human existence. I’m not really sure how either theory is necessarily practical; I nevertheless weigh in, and have weighed in for sometime, on the side of Intelligent Design.

Surprising as this may seem to most of the readers of this space, since the Creator God takes more shit than a little here, and the idea of intelligent design surrounding any species that considers me a member, there is no concrete evidence human beings came from ape or some kind of slimy creature emerging from swampland. Having stated this, the likelihood of the whole weeklong workload creation thing for an omnipotent deity is slim and none, and in all seriousness, slim just left the building.

But if I may, in my limited capacity for any kind of scientific acumen, let me beat the drum for one of what theorists like to define as two schools of Evolution: Micro-evolution and Macro-evolution. Micro deals with small changes within a species which adapt that species to be better suited to its environment. Macro claims that through major genetic mutations one species can evolve into another, so over a long period of time fish could evolve into insects, birds and mammals. From this concept it’s suggested that all life could have evolved from simple chemical structures, thus life could have resulted from natural processes without the need for a creator.

This is silly on principle alone, especially when considering Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion which states simply that “for every action there is a reaction”, or as my good friend and celebrated scientist, Cunliffe Merriwether cited in his groundbreaking work, Quitting Science, “I have some reason to believe that aliens from a certain planet, XPC-25, in the Auroral Cluster, were in fact the ones who fornicated with monkeys on this planet, producing the eohippus and other humanoid ancestors.”

This is all well and good, but, of course, Merriwether spends good portions of the book dissecting what he claims were Newton’s other lesser-known laws like “Newton’s 4th Law: ‘If You Build It, They Will Come’. Or Newton’s 5th Law: ‘Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind.’ Or his 6th: ‘It’s All Good'”. And then there’s my personal favorite, “Newton’s 9th Law: ‘Hey, What’s the Big Idea?'”

I think producing, say, the Missing Link is as paramount to the discussion as producing Noah’s Ark or the bones of Adam and Eve.

But crazy as the both of these men seem to you and me, they are scientists, and they live and breath with what can be proven, and not surmised or debated. And these are men who believe, if not in a Creator God, then some kind of source to the universe and existence therein. Yet most scientists are vehemently opposed to a discussion regarding Intelligent Design, despite the fact that beyond the Big Bang Theory, no one seems to be able to sufficiently explain where the Big Bang came from, or more precisely, why macro-evolution is fancy when suggesting how life developed from one species to another, but not so much on how we jumped from no life to life or from unconscious to conscious.

What about the complexity of DNA, anyway? Where’s the solid evidence that this is random? Even in the simplest life forms, we have a number of different and complex components which must all be in place for life to occur. Take any of the components away and you no longer have life. The building blocks of living beings are complex and are not independent. How can these components have been assembled separately apart from pre-existent life? Or as my brother once posed to me over a burrito, “You shift that axis of ours an infinitesimal amount and we’re a dead rock floating through space.”

This is where science becomes as thorny as religion. It becomes a defacto religion with contradictions and huge holes in the postulate. Hey, believe what you want to believe, but all I’m saying, along with our God President, is consider all of the alternatives to the once unshakably resolute Macro-evolution theory.

Now, chances are we’re not getting to the bottom of how humans came to be in this space today, but we can be certain that to dismiss Intelligent Design as the ranting of religious fanatics is unfair. I am not a religious fanatic, unless you consider Fletcherism a religion. I am wild about Fletcherism. But sticklers would deem it more of a practice, really; specifically the practice of chewing food until it is reduced to a finely divided, liquefied mass, which was originally advocated by 19th century nutritionist, Horace Fletcher. Thomas Edison was a devout Fletcherist, and it’s hard to argue with that guy. But, aside from Fletcherism, I despise religion mostly. However, to reject some of the concepts and theorems based on our superstitions and cultural divides is irresponsibly capricious and hardly scientific.

I think producing, say, the Missing Link is as paramount to the discussion as producing Noah’s Ark or the bones of Adam and Eve.

This reminds me of a more acceptable theory of Creation in the form of Intelligent Design from author and Biblical historian, Elaine Pagels, who recently put forth the once accepted theory among Israelites that one larger, more centralized Source Figure sparked another lesser Creator God, who, by all accounts, screwed the whole thing up. This may help to explain why this lesser, more jealous and spiteful, Creator God runs amok in the Torah flooding and burning and turning humans into salt when peeved in the slightest, while the Israelites continued to insist in literature and oral tradition that the unspoken One loved and nurtured its Creation per se.

Anyway, I’m sure that’s nonsense too, but it is a least an attempt beyond monkeys, aliens, Big Bangs, Let There Be Light, and Darwinism to explain things. Who’s to say who is wackier? Not me, not Christians, not science, and certainly not the US government.

Teach it all, and let the kids sort it out.

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Legalize Marijuana Already

Aquarian Weekly 6/15/05 REALITY CHECK


MarijunaThe day everybody got stoned, it was a Thursday, The sky was blue and the birds sang pretty. Traffic moved really, really, really, really, really slow But no one cared, they had the tunes cranking loud Really, really, really, really, really, really loud. The cops stayed in the donut shop all day No one got shot, no one got robbed, Although eleven million people ended up quitting their jobs. – Dan Bern

I often turn to my good friend Admiral Bernstein in times of sociological or political crisis. He’s like Twain in the wisdom department, except he’s alive and I can have a laugh with him anytime I want. Twain would have seen the need to legalize marijuana in this country, and not because it would boost the economy and mellow everyone the hell out, but because a preponderance of us blow it anyway, and Mrs. Clemens’ baby boy hated denial and hypocrisy. And, most of all, it makes little sense for a society hell-bent on gobbling every pharmaceutical drug known to modern science, guzzle galloons of alcohol daily, and mainline coffee freely and without regret to act all high and mighty about grass.

I know this is the Age of Morality and the Republicans are using God and Family to keep jobs they don’t deserve, but this latest ruling by the Supreme Court that “marijuana may not be distributed to persons who prove a medical necessity for the drug” is patently criminal. Where’s the morality in that? And where are the Tom Delays now that sick people are being denied treatment? Is someone with glaucoma any less inflicted than Terry Schiavo, or is it that the churchgoing Bible freaks are against the evil pot?

I think we know the answer to that one.

It’s selective morality. I ask you: Who decides what treatment is evil?

I’ve recently learned there are morality clauses in some half-dozen states that allow pharmacists to deny women birth control pills based on the personal beliefs of the pharmacist, but that is so far off the charts unconstitutional I will leave it up to comedians and women’s groups to grapple with. I’m on the weed thing right now.

Okay, so Selective Morals goes nicely with our Selective Foreign Policy of whom we choose to free from tyrannical regimes and whose oppressed citizenry of tradable nations we ignore, but it doesn’t wash in the realm of sober reasoning. And this is what we deal with in this space, despite it being ignored in just about every media and press outlet in this country.

Let’s be honest, the stigma of marijuana is deep. It carries with it a demonization that rarely attaches itself to booze or gambling. Why? Detractors argue it is because it’s dangerous and leads to harder drug use. This is a fairy tale. You know why? There is no scientific proof to this argument. And this is the same argument (no scientific proof) that the Supreme Court offers on the issue of medicinal use of the drug.

To wit: “Marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in the case of the Controlled Substances Act, the statute reflects a determination that marijuana has no medical benefits worthy of an exception (outside the confines of a government-approved research project).”

Is someone with glaucoma any less inflicted than Terry Schiavo, or is it that the churchgoing Bible freaks are against the evil pot?

This was Justice Clarence Thomas’ statement following the ruling, and it speaks volumes.

Let’s break it down.

It is okay to refuse the prescription of a drug based on little to no scientific proof while simultaneously denying its effectiveness based on the same criteria. How is that possible? And who the hell knows what is good or bad, really? Government agencies? The same government agencies that continuously pass pharmaceutical drugs and then yank them back when dangerous side effects start mounting? The same government agencies that tell us eggs are good, eggs are bad, eggs are good, eggs are bad…what the fuck?

Thomas’ final parenthetical aside is paramount to understanding this discrimination against cannabis – “Outside the confines of government-approved research project.” Do you know what gets the government-approved projects? Big time pharmaceutical concerns that lobby the shit out of congress and share in the grotesque profits of said drugs, that’s who.

Once again, we get moral rhetoric to hide greed. And that’s okay. We readily accept greed. We don’t begrudge anyone making a buck on Fear. It is the pillar of capitalism. But using the same tactic to beat down the competition is suppose to be a form a racketeering and is regulated by free-trade laws, except ganja can’t get the same treatment, because its illegal.

Believe me, if the oil companies could outlaw electricity or the meat companies could outlaw soy products, they sure as hell would. But it’s hard to get Mom and Pop riled up about Veggie burgers. There is no stigma against that. Damn it! But there is one against marijuana, and that’s the hammer used to keep it illegal.

I don’t smoke pot, so personally I couldn’t give half a shit if it were legalized or not. I dig on absinthe, which is rightfully illegal and would likely cripple half the pot smokers in this country. But at least I’m honest enough to admit what is happening to hemp has no basis in fact or merit. It is capricious and arbitrary reasoning, like the morality arguments that support it. Furthermore, if you think about it, there is no basis in reality for moral arguments being included in the law. And don’t give me bullshit about crimes like theft and murder being symptomatic of a moral construct. These acts infringe on civil rights, how exactly does smoking dope to alleviate pain infringe on anyone’s rights?

Okay, so you legalize marijuana and everyone is lazy and forgetful and eats too much junk food, Pink Floyd makes a comeback and people say “man” a lot. So what? Its no worse than assholes dancing around football games in sub-zero weather with their shirt off or college girls whipping off their tops for a video clip or Dick Chaney going on national television and telling everyone the Iraq war would last two weeks.

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Erotic Expo 2005

Aquarian Weekly 5/25/05 REALITY CHECK

PEDDLING MORALITY IN THE DEN OF INIQUITY Why Christian Extremists Get First Class Treatment At A Porn Convention

Tera Patrick“I’m from the Christian Coalition for Decency & Moral Servitude,” I announced with the piggish authority of a professional. The doe-eyed staffer for the 2005 Erotic Expo stood with mouth agape, stunned, but cordial. “Excuse me, sir?” he asked politely, trying hard to feign deafness. I repeated my phony title more forcefully this time; waving at him an old plastic Bill Bradley Campaign credential I had rattling around in my bag. “Uh, um, well, do you have a pass for this event?” he asked, tugging nervously on his nifty yellow uniform. I told him I did not.

“Why do I need a pass, kind sir?” I shouted. “I have a pass from the Lord!”

The lobby of the Hotel Pennsylvania, another in a series of renovated ancient accommodations in midtown Manhattan, buzzed all around me. The eager traders of flesh were oblivious to my regal stance. It was painfully evident that smut was being peddled here, and I thought it best to see how strident these Purveyors of Pornography are when faced with a salty Soldier of God.

The illusion was miraculous, seeing how I was dressed in the usual frumpy journalist garb; wrinkled shirt sloppily untucked beneath a ragged blue blazer, coffee-stained jeans and a whirring mini-tape recorder clutched in my right fist, which I used it to shake violently at the press secretary, a handsomely tanned middle-aged man with an unnerving grin.

“I’ve come to record names, addresses and income figures of your merchants of filth!” I told him.

“No one apprised us of your arrival, Mister…?”

“Koczan,” I told him. It was the first name I thought of, and the managing editor of this magazine. Poor soul. He sends me an e-mail every week asking if there is anything he could do, so I figured lending his name to this charade is as good an anything as there is.

After much haggling, dropping a few power names like Ralph Reed, Bill Bennett, Sean Hannity, Larry Flynt, and claiming first class citizenship in the Republican Super Rangers (big cash lobbyists for the Religious Right) I managed to procure a pass.

Once inside, I decided to keep the impersonation on the down low. No sense riling up the festivities with any talk of Jesus or Tom Delay. Wait to spring it on them at the last minute after they give it up.

It was time to extricate myself from the proceedings and not speak a word of this to anyone. Who expected the ghost of Calvin Coolidge to beat in the heart of horny?

“I’m from Maxim,” I told the marketing spokesman for Epic Adult World, a chunky mustached fellow named Scott, who perked up when he thought his musings on the fastest growing industry in the United States, which, by the way, earns billions of dollars a year with 98.9% American sweat and tears, would appear in the nation’s hottest magazine. “We toil for the most domestically solvent industry in this country,” Scott beamed. “There’s no outsourcing in porn.”

He was a proud American, and it was hard to lie to him, or at least perpetuate the second lie, the one about me representing Maxim, an odd choice, especially since my letter-bomb mishap of 2002 has made it nearly impossible for me to sell them anything. So I went back to the first lie.

“You’re from a Christian Organization?” Scott laughed, and then promptly called over a spokesman for E & A Video Magazine, who reminded me that in the last decade alone the number of adult production companies, actors, agencies, and distributors has quadrupled. This includes the obligatory influx of enthusiastic money minds like accountants and investors. “In 1990, for instance, porn companies and studios in California’s San Fernando Valley (known among the insiders as Porn Valley, USA) has gone from dozens to hundreds,” the grayish pipe smoking friendly explained. “You’re talking about entire towns being kept in the black by the production and sale of video sex acts.”

Knowing I was opposed to their line of work seemed to delight these guys. It was as if I tapped into why so many young men claim to be Bible Thumpers. Free access to porn, I surmised, an enviable coup for any growing American deviant to say the least.

I was about to sermonize on eternal damnation when a young gentleman representing Eighty-East Entertainment, a major online shipping porn service from right here in Wyckoff, NJ provided me hardcore (pun intended) profit numbers set in graph form. The image was staggering. Since 1998, there appeared not one ripple in the graph line. It rode unimpeded up and to the right, the kind of gaudy illustration of profit margins that would keep Donald Trump hard for weeks.

Staring at the graph I was reminded of an old Chrysler axiom coined by Lee Iacocca before he had his third nervous breakdown and rammed a steam ship with his yacht while screaming incoherently about Karl Marx: Money Talks/God Walks.

That’s when my buddies over at Genesis magazine, (a periodical I freelanced for when they actually had articles) started parading over porn stars for a chat. Scantly clad women from bright-eyed mid-twenties to hard-bitten thirties; enhanced, slender, bold as sailors, and richer than Jay-Lo. Nearly every one of the half dozen I spoke with either own production companies, modeling agencies, marketing firms or act as spokespersons and CEOs for full-scale pay web sites, which actually make money – not like some financial sinkhole like Amazon. These women with interesting stage monikers like Tera Patrick, Taylor Wane, Olivia O’Lovely, among others have homes on both coasts, high-rise offices and actually own their likenesses, something I’m sure Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson don’t.

Oh, and by the way, they’re all Christians. So I didn’t have the heart to tell them I was an imposter and I couldn’t give half a fart what they did for cash, as long as it was fairly legal and didn’t involve me having to sell shoes.

It was time to extricate myself from the proceedings and not speak a word of this to anyone. Who expected the ghost of Calvin Coolidge to beat in the heart of horny?

“Once you do a film, there’s no going back,” remarked Patrick, a tall brunette with the kind of eyes that tell tales. She is reportedly one of the biggies, second only to the legendary Jenna Jameson in transcending the T & A crowd. She makes a handful of videos a year, or at least enough to stockpile a backlog to vend well into her early retirement.

She’s not yet 30.

I’m 42 and impersonating a Christian activist at a NYC porn expo for a thousand word column.

We had a laugh about that and I went home, cranked this out, and went about checking out the two hundred penis enhancement ads in my e-mail box.

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Lay Off The Catholics

Aquarian Weekly 4/20/05 REALITY CHECK


Pope John Paul IIMy favorite thing about this 24-hour harangue of televised and radio-addled news commentary and coverage is the hyping and lauding over an event until the marrow is sucked dry and then we’re left with the inevitable backlash. We’re experiencing this now with the passing of Pope John Paul II. I’m pretty sure the funeral is finally over. I could be wrong. It might still be going. Like Reagan’s interminable send off these things seem to take on a life of their own like David Blaine living in a box for weeks.

But assuming they finally buried the Pope, after weeks and reams of praise and plaudits and tributes, we get the “The Pope Was A Misogynist!” “The Pope Turned A Blind Eye to Aids In Africa!” “The Catholic Church Is Atavistic Voodoo!” The Catholic Hierarchy Excuses And Harbors Known Pedophiles!” All predictable, and, I might add, asinine. Not nearly as asinine as claiming the Pope or Ronald Reagan’s lunatic arms race or kids holding hands in a quilt or some such bullshit ended communism in eastern Europe.

All together now…


I have written that in this space more times than the “F” word, and man, that ain’t a little.

You see what people don’t get is that religion, specifically organized religion, and in the case of the Vatican, a major league powerful, billion-dollar world altering religion has to have strict – balls to the wall – dogma to exist. Some of it acts as a sound guideline. Some of it stinks with antiquity. Some of it is wacky. Some of it borders on sacred. The Catholics are silly with this stuff. Believe me, I was one. But it is not for us to deride. It is their deal, and the Pope, although this one was quite the traveler and commentator on world events and as progressive as Popes go, was the infallible mouthpiece for the church’s dogma.

I dug this Pope, for the most part. His written apology stuck in Jerusalem’s Western Wall for eons of anti-Semitic actions, murders, and other mayhem at the hands of the Roman Catholic charges is one of the most humbly sympathetic and mind-altering gestures performed by any human in the 20th century. And when he was shot by that crazy Turk, and then healed up and came back and hugged him. That was downright Jesus stuff. Not the Jesus Christ Jesus, but you know, the Jewish ascetic from Nazareth. Forget it.

Anyway, as far as Popes go, this one was brilliant, charismatic, and widely influential. But he’s the friggin’ Pope. The Catholic Church is NEVER going to allow women priests or advocate birth control or lean a little on the abortion issue, or sell their own priesthood – the backbone of the religion – down the river for a few deviant scum. It’s like the mafia or the NYPD. They take care of their own.

You don’t like it, don’t join, or get out! Suck it up! It’s a religion.

I don’t like to see a cardinal who shielded known pedophiles preside over a tribute mass for the Pope anymore than I like to see a murderer like Ted Kennedy as an acting senator or ex-cons like Ollie North hosting debate shows on cable. But, hey, it’s their gig. I wash my hands of it, and whatever they want to do is fine with me.

This tidbit of angst came up last year when I got a ton of mail telling me I was being flippant about this gay Episcopal bishop issue. Remember that craziness? So I repeat: you want to be gay, use condoms, be a woman with equal rights to perform ceremonies, or get a pound of flesh for people diddling your kids, then go somewhere else. You’re not Catholic then. Find a new thing. People do it all the time. There are tons of faiths out there, and mostly, they’re pretty much the same crap.

This is not like politics where you can have a pro-choice Republican or a pro-war Democrat. It’s not likely they’ll be invited to the monthly weenie roast, but why not? It’s fun, keeps the democracy thing on its toes. But this just in: Catholicism is a theocracy.

When I read or hear these outcries against certain religious tenets I cannot help but consider the source for the 9/11 disaster. It was the failure of this country’s leaders to see the lunacy of fundamentalism, in this case Islamic. This is not unlike the voting public failing to see that their president is a religious fanatic – if he really believes this nonsense, of which I’m not totally convinced. But let’s just say George W. Bush really believes Jesus Christ told him that God wants us to free Iraq. I’m pretty sure he’s said this in major magazines, but maybe I was drunk. What now, tootie?

You see, we are so anesthetized to the rhythmic din of faith as mania we hardly notice when people leaping around in burkas in the middle of nowhere leads to crashing planes into our buildings. But it’s real. And that’s when things must be debated or, in some sober cases, bombed into oblivion. With the Catholics, it’s basically; they don’t go in for the gay/condom/woman deacon thing. And, really, who believes young boys claiming they’ve been violated?

I blame the Pope for none of it, especially John Paul II. He was The Man. Jeez, he had the two names that reek of Christianity – St. John, the guy responsible for all those signs at football games, and St. Paul, the guy responsible, let’s face it, for the football games. The Pope represented the dogma to the end. He did his job, for which you cannot make the same assessment on about two-thirds of this abysmal government of ours.

You don’t like it, don’t join, or get out! Suck it up! It’s a religion. How would Major League Baseball like it if the commissioner one day decided that everyone should use tennis rackets and head directly to third base upon hitting safely? Or how do think the NRA would react if the new director made some kind of statement to the effect of “Guns are bad” on national television tomorrow? Hey, how about if the immigration department just let thousands of illegal aliens march over the border daily and the federal government granted them driver’s licenses? Yeah, how’d you…

Oh, right.

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Hunter Stockton Thompson 1937-2005

Aquarian Weekly 3/2/05 REALITY CHECK


“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” – Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. ThompsonHunter Thompson is to me what Jesus Christ is to Born Again Christians. Period. Whether you go for that kind of thing or not, I think you get what I mean: Before him, darkness, afterwards, everything. Salvation. Enlightenment. Resurrection. If you think the comparison mad or inappropriate, perhaps try on John Lennon’s quote about Elvis Presley – “Before Elvis, there was nothing.”

Maybe those are not fitting enough analogies, but it’s the best I can come up with minutes after hearing of Thompson’s death, a suicide, like Hemingway, his hero – alone, at home, dead. Thompson once wrote about Hemingway’s fatal gun wound, brutally eloquent and without regret, like everything he would ever write. No compromise. No wavering.

“That power of conviction is a hard thing for a writer to sustain,” he wrote of Hemingway’s suicide in the spring of 1964 for the National Observer. “And especially so when he becomes conscious of it.”

My worship of Thompson’s work, and the man himself, dedicated to living the soul of his craft, wasn’t a gradual awakening for me. It was sudden, like a rubber mallet to the temple. No, it was more like a blow to the solar plexus. Remember when you were clocked so hard as a kid your lungs would cease to function for what seemed like an eternity? They used to call it “losing your wind.” Yeah, from the first line of the first piece I read by Hunter S. Thompson, I lost my wind.

Nothing was ever the same for me. Career, books, journalism; I owe a great deal of it to Hunter Thompson.

I have read better books by more accomplished authors, studied the work of finer satirists or social and political commentators, and followed the careers of more influential journalists. But not one of them, none had the concussive impact, the bone jarring, blood-rising, skin-tingling assault of the worst of Thompson’s work for me.

If you do not know of it, then you have missed out. Just know that authors inspire young writers, but scribes like Thompson, Twain or Mencken do not inspire, they abduct. Taken hostage, bound and gagged and beaten mercilessly from the first sentence. It is violent and disturbing, like all of life’s greatest gifts, not unlike an actual birth, with pain and screaming and blood everywhere.

Freedom. Danger. Humor. Anger. Honesty. Spite. Abuse. Fun.

Words as weapons; torrid, irrational, explicit, the literary equivalent of the frantic grappling of a drowning man. When nothing else can capture what kind of bizarre existence we endure, there are always the words. Strangling perception. Furious and unyielding. Funny as hell. Serious as a cardiac.

This kind of emotional sucker-punch will get you moving in the direction of your muse. Yes it will. You will write, motherfucker. You will not shy from the gory details, and you will not let the phony bastards have the last word. Not when the words can flow like a viscous, pounding flood; a storm of words lunging from the page. I didn’t read Hunter Thompson. I felt Hunter Thompson. I did not guess. I knew, intrinsically, like Saint Paul on the road to Damascus. Thrown to the ground from my steed. And when I got up, I could not help but write.

If you have the slightest tinge in your constitution to write, really write, without the net – to stand in the fire and take the ammo, tear out pieces of your id and juggle your ego, take strides on the wild and peer unblinking into the abyss, then you know about Hunter Thompson.

I knew about Twain and Mencken before Hunter Thompson. I knew about Kerouac and Kesey and Vonnegut. I stood in awe. I enjoyed. But when I read Thompson, I wrote.

If you have the slightest tinge in your constitution to write, really write, without the net – to stand in the fire and take the ammo, tear out pieces of your id and juggle your ego, take strides on the wild and peer unblinking into the abyss, then you know about Hunter Thompson. You know about the writer, because the real writer does not claim, he testifies, he does not loiter, he arrives, he does not parry, he plunges.

Praise the Lord.

Unfortunately or fortunately for Hunter Thompson, he plied his trade in the age of celebrated stupidity. By which I mean the age of non-readers, non-thinkers, voyeurs and reactors. I believe Thompson called it a Generation of Swine. Ironically, these are the same people who worshipped him as an icon of the drug culture, of the violence and despondence that comes from ignorance. They know him best for the beast and the clown that beats in the heart of the maverick. And he wore the cloak of outlaw well. He lived the art, as I mentioned above; the man as the craft. Not a fabricated, distilled version of the artist, and brethren to his poetic and musical partner in crime, Bob Dylan.

Another pretty fair satirist, Oscar Wilde once mused, “I use my talent for my work. I save my genius for my life.”

How do you explain Thompson’s finest work, his most historically revolutionary art, having been published in a rock n’ roll pop culture magazine? Long after Thompson had begun to invent things like “new journalism” and the word he coined that now appears in Webster’s and the modern encyclopedia, Gonzo, Rolling Stone magazine acted as the launching pad for one of the most prolific periods of journalistic fiction in modern times. Hunter Thompson as his generation’s acrobat.

That is where Thompson set his bazookas on politics. He survived Chicago in ’68, Saigon in the last days, hit the road with the McGovern ’72 campaign, ravaged Watergate and Nixon, and beyond. Way beyond; “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas” beyond. It was the book that cemented him as the 20th century Dante. “Pay the ticket, take the ride,” he wrote. Stare into the face of madness, bad craziness, regret and fury; that is what he came for, and now he goes back from wherever these brilliant creatures come from.

And I will miss him and pang at the thought that he will no longer write. Forget the booze and the drugs and the bombs and the sex and the rest. There will be no more missives from Hunter S. Thompson. I will miss his infrequent and badly handled visits to New York. I will miss my stolen chats with him, the contents and subjects of which I will take to the grave. I will miss the way he raised his eyebrows when he was thinking and that mischievous chuckle into his armpit whenever he was sure there would be trouble.

His friend and colleague, British artist, Ralph Steadman once wrote of Thompson, “He raged against the coming of the light, rather than the dying of the light.”

But I think the Good Doctor of Journalism said it best: “There is not much mental distance between a feeling of having been screwed and the ethic of total retaliation, or at least the kind of random revenge that comes with outraging the public decency.”


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Michael Jackson Is In Deep Shit

Aquarian Weekly 2/16/05 REALITY CHECK


The Jacko ShowPretty soon Michael Jackson will go on trial for molesting a prepubescent cancer survivor.

I think I need to write that again, because for reasons best left to sociologists or the producers of Entertainment Tonight, I’ve been seeing a great deal of undo attention paid to his fashion choices on the way to the courthouse, his entourage, the whole umbrella waving thing and the occasional babbling nonsense from a family member.

Let it sink in: Pretty soon Michael Jackson will go on trial for molesting a prepubescent cancer survivor.

In all due respect to those of you that complain of the coarse “gutter” language displayed weekly in this space; that is some serious shit.

And if you even remotely read this column, you know well that for the very first time (drum roll please) I believe a major league celebrity is actually going to see time.

So if you care about such things, I’d alert those people who managed to interpret the O.J. Simpson verdict as some kind of culture victory, because this generation’s Fatty Arbuckle isn’t just hitting the gold record wall, he’s fixing for an orange jump suit.

Don’t get me wrong; there is still a sinisterly cynical part of me that fully expects there to be some kind of pay off scenario.

But so far, unlike the last time (as if there being a last time is anything less than unconscionable) there is a motivated witness and no sign of a civil suit. These people, the kid and the guardian, are serious, and that is bad news for the King of Pop.

But for those still holding out hope that this is all about greed, celebrity bashing, or let’s pick on the easy mark with the mannequin face and the Howard Hughes existence, the facts of the claim seem somewhat hazy. Specifically the gray area between a confused and embarrassed child unwilling to come forth that had to be coerced by adults and the ensuing imagined revisionist cries for help to expunge any blame or embarrassment. Kids do this all the time, regardless of the gravity of the event.

To wit: A few years ago the kid (and by kid I’m stretching it, because at 12 years old myself, or anyone I grew up with would have found it laughably ridiculous to end up being seduced by a 45 year old weirdo with cotton candy and merry-go-rounds) was seen across the globe in a highly publicized British documentary putting his little head on Michael Jackson’s shoulder as the singer effused gleefully his joy and inalienable right to sleep in the same bed as visiting young boys. From there the poor kid was understandably abused by his friends, given the third degree by mom and sent to counseling where he began spinning explicit stories of inappropriate behavior and blatant sexual encounters.

Once the councilor alerted the authorities light bulbs went on.

This is a classic example of wrong time, wrong place, wrong defendant.

Jackson has a past with the LAPD. They were railroaded in 1993 when a second accuser bailed and the remaining alleged victim reportedly took $20 million to make the case go away. Now with the latest allegations, there would be a hue and cry. “What the hell are you people doing about that crazy middle-aged man running around a private compound with little children, many of them unsupervised and ending up in residence?”

For those not buying the paranoid mania defense, there is also the handy; if Jackson had a sexual proclivity toward young boys he would have been more careful about hiding it. Instead, almost immediately after the ’93 case was settled he was back in the public eye romping about with children and inviting scores of prepubescent boys by for sleepovers and whisking their star-crossed parents to Vegas or around the world in his private jet. There were never any of the usual fronts, unless you count the overtly business-arranged marriage and child rearing that is far too bizarre to sanely extrapolate here.

But forgiving Michael Jackson for a robbed childhood splashed upon the public, repeated beatings by his father, and the heaps of mental abuse a child must endure when being whisked around the world and sharing hotel rooms with older, sexually-charged brothers is one thing. Letting him walk on what could be the ugly results of these abuses by abusing (in one form or another) other children is an entirely different animal.

Hey, I think anyone paying attention realizes that for whatever reason Michael Jackson, through his art, his lifestyle, his physical manipulation, his strangely affected public image has been crying out for help. He is a victim in too many instances to cite, but this should not get him off this time.

Neither will the fame nor the money that has sheltered him for decades. And it’s not only paybacks for Jackson. This is a far different culture than when the O.J. Simpson Trial became the Great American Circus. There is a serious lockdown on social mores today. The Republican/Conservative government take-over, the FCC threats of imposed decency (spear-headed in an ironic twist by Michael’s sister Janet’s Super Bowl incident), explosion of hard-line religious fanaticism, and a 9/11 backlash that has given the FBI free range to spy, confiscate and infiltrate anyone anywhere. Not to mention the comeuppance for a long nasty history of Los Angeles Police Department screw-ups.

And we are talking about a prepubescent cancer survivor here.

This is a classic example of wrong time, wrong place, wrong defendant.

Michael Jackson is America’s celebrity experiment. Some kind of preternatural Skinner Box child, who grew up in a fishbowl with no boundaries and sense of self beyond what the Billboard charts indicated. He is a mess. And that’s fine, as long as it doesn’t get the rest of us messy. And this case is messy. Very messy.

If he is guilty, he goes to prison. Case closed.

If he is not, and this is merely a way we can regurgitate our cultural mistakes, exorcise our age of celebrity worship/assassination by making Michael Jackson a pariah because he cannot relate to anyone over the age of 13, or, god forbid, a woman, that we need him chained in the attic like our own Motown Boo Radley, then we wear his shame.

Either way Michael Jackson is in deep shit.

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“Planet Simpson” Review

Aquarian Weekly 12/29/04 REALITY CHECK

In Praise of The Simpsons & An Engaging New Book That Hits The Mark

The Simpsons“And so it has gone for the Great American Joke, from Mark Twain to H.L. Mencken to Lenny Bruce to National Lampoon. If you look closely at a recent map of the United States of America and find a chasm where the Great American Joke lives – scenic, satirical Hypocritical Gap – there you find Springfield, U.S.A.” – Chris Turner from “Planet Simpson”

For 16 seasons The Simpsons; the sharpest, most biting satire ever unleashed outside the underground and splashed onto the global mainstream, has managed to affect the cultural landscape while simultaneously ripping its fabric to hilarious shreds. It is the most subversive kind of art, sprung from the very medium it attacks, gaining the popularity and relevance of an international icon, while also being its most uncompromising critic. For a mere TV show, a cartoon one at that, it is unique in its construct, dissemination, and finally its vast and varied audience, which include poet laureates to head’s of state, rock stars, and scores of professors from the loftiest heights of academia. So now finally we have a study of its brilliance and influence worthy of the subject. It is a 400-plus page tribute, dissection, and investigation entitled “Planet Simpson – How A Cartoon Masterpiece Defined A Generation” by Canadian journalist and pop culture essayist, Chris Turner.

Someone had to do it, and for all true fans of what could be deemed (as many critique circles already have) the best show in television history, it would appear the right man for the job did.

“When many critics or fans discuss they’re favorite rock band or filmmaker, they’re convinced that whatever is happening within that phenomenon will change everything,” Turner told me in our discussion earlier this month. “But there are so few cases when that is actually the case. The Simpsons are one of those.”

From The Simpsons’ heralded and over hyped infancy to its Golden Age of the early to mid-90s’, which Turner calls “an awesome achievement in pop art”, all the way through its incredible level of consistency in writing, voice-acting, production, and direction, “Planet Simpson” expertly reviews and defines the longest running prime time television comedy by leaving no philosophical or cultural query unturned. Turner’s astoundingly encyclopedic research on the hundreds of episodes and thousands of key moments pleases the discerning fan while also deftly presenting the show’s highlights for the novice. The best compliment for any book of this ambition would be that it serves as a practical explanation for why we all love The Simpsons as much as we do, and “Planet Simpson” does this in spades.

“Unlike many other television shows that have limits to its relevance, it seems The Simpsons holds up to this kind of obsession,” Turner reflects. “I never get the feeling from the big-time fans that they’re using the show to escape the realities of the world around them, just the opposite. The Simpsons actually tends to bring you closer to reality in a lot of ways.”

Turner’s Simpsons is a juggernaut of pop iconoclasm wrapped in the astute blade of cutting humor hitting so resolutely close to the bone its existence is nearly a wonderful mirage. The author states emphatically, “You almost felt in the early seasons that The Simpsons was too good, too smart, and too biting that it would be taken off the air. It didn’t belong somehow.”

It is the most subversive kind of art, sprung from the very medium it attacks, gaining the popularity and relevance of an international icon, while also being its most uncompromising critic.

“Planet Simpson” begins by laying out the groundwork for what Turner dubs “The Simpsonian Humor Principle”, which is somewhat based on the satirist/comedian Lenny Bruce’s “What Should be…” vs. “What is…” riffs; the false assumption that it’s human nature to base our judgments of the world at large on “what should be” like God, country, principle, morality, and open, selfless dedication to each other and our environment, an almost superman vision of society. The “What is…” is the actual maddening complexity of human nature filled with greed, insolence, power-struggle, jealousy and pettiness. According to Bruce, and the best The Simpsons have to offer, by ignoring the imperfections and fears of our world and replacing them with rose-colored fallacies we create the framework for disappointment and disillusionment.

“There is only what is,” scoffed Bruce in 1964. “The what-should-be never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is only what is.”

From here “Planet Simpson” takes off in several provocative directions, highlighted by Turner’s strong grasp of the socio-political landscape of the world that The Simpsons draw material from weekly. Whether it is a study of the consumerism lunacy of 90s’ America, the power of corporate tentacles throughout the civilized world, or our silly obsession with celebrity, Turner tells us where and how and why The Simpsons seem to have it nailed and consistently get away with pushing an envelope other art forms wish they could touch.

Turner agrees with Simpsons’ creators like Matt Groening and Sam Simon who have stated that because of the two-dimensional façade of a cartoon, much more is accepted and allows for the writers a greater palate with less limitations.

“The example I often use for this is where Homer is giving Bart advice on how to deal with women and ends up getting inexplicably drunk during it,” Turner cites. “He comes to no conclusion, blathering incoherently. Whereas the normal sitcom dad might have some bland, formulaic advice, we get poor frustrated Homer getting inebriated.”

The book cleverly breaks down The Simpsons’ family members into defining chapters, encapsulating their individual and collective luster and why they have resonated under the satirical umbrella of “what is” so effectively for so long: Homer; goofy, lovable father or gluttonous, consumer-addled hedonist? Bart; misguided imp or rebellious punk icon? Lisa; smart, compassionate voice of reason or pompous intellectual finger-pointer? Marge; the show’s patient moral center or enabling nag-victim? Each character is studied for its reflection of human nature and how their image has represented us hilariously and so vividly without apology for the show’s incredible run.

Then, of course, there is Springfield, U.S.A. and its inhabitants, which run the gamut of society’s ills and thrills from politics in the overtly slimy Mayor Quimby; “I propose that I use what’s, uh, left of the town treasury to move to a more prosperous town and run for mayor. And, uh, once elected, I will send for the rest of you” to organized religion in the blatantly judgmental Reverend Lovejoy; “And as we pass the collection plate, please give as if the person next to you was watching” to corrupt attorneys in the dangerously inept Lionel Hutz; “Mr. Simpson, this is the most blatant case of fraudulent advertising since my suit against the film, ‘The Never-Ending Story'” to our mediocre crop of educators in the overwhelmed Principle Skinner, “God bless the man who invented permission slips”.

The Simpsons uses its medium as well as any art uses its medium,” Turner told me in closing. “Over the past half-century high art has been all about transcending its medium, playing with pop icons and commenting on society at large, from Andy Warhol on down, and The Simpsons does that as well or better than all of them. Without hyperbole, I believe it is to television, a powerful 20th century art form, what theater was to Shakespeare during his time.”


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Sarah Jones is The Real Deal

Aquarian Weekly 6/23/04 REALITY CHECK


“We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.”

– Abigail Adams

“I have a dream of a new American language.” – Dan Bern

Sarah JonesSarah Jones is the perfect physical satirist, a walking, talking vessel of effusive commentary, using every inch of her body, every tone of her cadence, every syllable of her language, and every move of her appendages to skewer our most taboo subjects. Her form, her face, her very spirit are the tools of her compelling prose and poetry. The medium is indeed the message for Jones, the shake of a hand, the twitch of an eye, the subtly of her focus gracefully befitting her considerable imagination. Yet the afterglow of her message also resonates like a piercing megaphone; an enviable virtuosity of several crafts that turns Jones’ one woman show, “Bridge & Tunnel” – currently playing at the cozy Bleecker Street Theater – into a symphonic masterpiece.

The show is framed beautifully as a fictional poetry group comprised of the most diverse cultural amalgam possible, allowing the pliable Jones to unload a cadre of New York’s most potent characters from the painfully amiable Pakistani host of “I.A.M.A.P.O.E.T.T.O.O.” to its vibrantly portrayed contributors including a loquacious Vietnamese slam-champ, an elderly yenta, a coldly pedantic Australian nihilist, a nostalgically melancholic Mexican paraplegic, et al. Through them Jones hits every note in the range of human emotion without a hint of maudlin shtick.

First and foremost, Sarah Jones is an exceptional wordsmith. Each character in “Bridge & Tunnel” brims with the narrative structure of a sharply manicured short story or a well-crafted essay. Their monologues, initially seeming almost incoherent, begin to slowly take cogent shape, leading us on a journey, some uncomfortable, others heart-warming, but every one recognizably haunting. As a playwright, not just a scribbler creating a vehicle for her immense thespian talents, Jones displays the type of rare promise in “Bridge & Tunnel” which launches a future prominent voice in modern American theater, one not seen in nearly half a century.

As a playwright, not just a scribbler creating a vehicle for her immense thespian talents, Jones displays the type of rare promise in “Bridge & Tunnel” which launches a future prominent voice in modern American theater, one not seen in nearly half a century.

Jones has been fittingly compared to Lenny Bruce, Lily Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg and Richard Pryor in her ability to entertain and provoke, educate and vilify, but after witnessing nearly two hours of 14 characters from every angle of the American social lexicon one denotes more than a hint of Twain or Voltaire.

But unlike many of the underground artsy projects found in the bowels of Greenwich Village, “Bridge & Tunnel” does not pound home metaphor and imagery with the indelicacy of a sledgehammer. Instead Jones’ work, and the provocative presentation of it, sneaks and peeks, draws you into disturbing portraits, peculiar viewpoints, and endearing insights. Sometimes these themes and emotions come together simultaneously, culling various responses from an audience unsure whether to laugh or cry.

Assuredly, during the late-spring Saturday afternoon matinee I attended, there was plenty of cheering. However, it was hard to tell if it was delight or the usual aplomb afforded the “new big thing”. Since its launch earlier this year, “Bridge & Tunnel” has had quite a run and Jones is hot now, and getting hotter. The show and her one-woman, all-encompassing contribution to it has received rave reviews and earned a full segment on the CBS Sunday Morning show. That’s about when I started paying attention to Jones’ work, after several repeated e-mails and calls from colleagues.

At 29-years old, Jones is already a performance artist of impeccable comedic and dramatic timing and an actor of considerable range with a voice of social eloquence. Many far more equipped to comment on the genre brand her a “can’t-miss” talent bound for film and celebrity. But for me, there is something deeper here than just a rising star; for starters a strong African-American woman’s voice, smart and fair in its observations. Both overtly political and wholly human, “Bridge & Tunnel” does not speak blithely for a cause beyond compassion and humor. It is merely an extension of its author, brash, yet enticing, hard, yet endearing. This is why Sarah Jones is unique in this splash world of hyperbolic nonsense.

This is why I believe she will be a significant generational siren, a cool customer in polarized political times amidst an increasingly mounting nation of divergent cultures.

Sitting through “Bridge & Tunnel” and its obvious messages of tolerance and understanding beyond just race, but gender, generation, ideology, religious and social custom, I was seduced by the distinct idea that I was not merely watching a consummate professional spark through sleek numbers and dead-on characterizations, which they most certainly are, but witnessing the maturation of a deft author more than capable of drawing true emotions with her words, not stabbing you with calculated tear-inducing, contemplative tricks.

In other words, Sarah Jones is the real deal. “Bridge & Tunnel” is reflective of that. Everyone should see it, if for nothing else, but to get a rare glimpse of the power of the written word exposed to the elements of pure expression.

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