The Next Decade Doesn’t Exist: Live for Today

It has been two entire whole years since I last wrote on here. If you’re new, feel free to peruse past articles but don’t judge me too harshly. Remember, these essays are meant to be Humorous; they may not actually be Funny, but that doesn’t stop them from being Humorous. If you’d like to read more, and therefore require me to write more, please @ me on the usual channels.

As one arbitrary ten year period – defined by human beings as the amount of time from when the sun appears above the swampland of the River Thames and the birth of Jesus Christ – passes into another, many of my esteemed friends, casual acquaintances and downright despicable enemies post upon their social media grainy 10 year-old camera phone portraits and trite recaps of past glories.

It would be magnificently bitter of someone like me who is handsome, sharp, always on the tip-top of fashion to pour scorn on the idea of reeling off one’s humble hit parade. The upshots are there for all to see; a hit of self-esteem (much needed in a northern hemisphere winter), inspiration for the posse and the crew, gratitude and appreciation for those erstwhile comrades who held us up against the winds of change and a coded message saying ‘go-fuck-yourself’ to anyone who dared stand in our way.

Yet it occurs to me that something is missing. Like Columbo (where was he in 2019? I hope Peter Falk is OK. edit: he is dead) turning and shaking his cigar to add “Just one more thing,” I can’t help but point out that writing a list like this, or indeed comparing your 5 megapixel photos from 2009 to the LSD*-sharp image of an iPhone 11 Pro** involves looking back into the past, when really what we need to be doing is living for TODAY.

Why dwell in memories when they are barely even reality? The past might well be more real than the future; after all, we have cave paintings, postcards and YouTube to remind us that it all happened. Consider if you will, though, that persimmon you ate an hour ago. Does it still exist? Can you see it, feel it, taste it? Has it passed through your body in the form of poop? Is that fruit even still in season? On such branches grow thoughts of transience, of futility, of loss; of seizing the moment at every opportunity. What does not grow on those branches? Sharon fruits, also known as persimmons.

One should not look back on the past, lest we crick our necks and get stuck that way™. Oh, you had a bad day yesterday? Yesterday is gone. The morning sun burnt it up and a new day began in its place. Be fresh bro! What’s that lady? You lost your job? Guess what; that office grew legs, bust its foundations and strolled away leaving an empty lot where your career used to be. Today’s vocation awaits you. Hark! Say again friend! Your entire family died in a fire? Both parents, all children, partner and your bit of fluff on the side? You’re now completely alone you say? Fine. Those children had the stench of nostalgia all over them and your partner was holding you back. One thing’s for certain, love exists in the now and today is a fine day for a new mistress.

Let us delve into this theory a little more deeply. Look around you; what can you see? A wilted red rose reminds you that yesterday you campaigned for Labour, destroyed tories all over social media, voted twice using the name of a dead relative; and yet, today Jeremy Corbyn is selling off old manifestos to save up for a Berghaus jacket. He wants to get an outdoor hobby but he doesn’t know what yet; could be hiking, could be orienteering, but one thing it won’t be is Prime Minister of the UK.

Your eye veers left to an umbrella, reminding you of that awful weather disaster that befell your neighborhood. Maybe it was a Japanese typhoon, an earth quake in Albania or a bush fire in California or Eastern Australia (in which case, an umbrella wouldn’t help much. If you’re in Australia, get out NOW). Your house may have been reduced to rubble or flooded halfway to your genitals but that’s now in the past tense. There’s only one thing on the agenda today and that is painting jagged rocks, shouting to and at family members (it’s still Christmas after all) plus decorating your flood plain with floating tealights, available at IKEA worldwide.

That picture on the shelf of you with your friends catches your eye. OK, so you were living with R. Kelly and now you find yourself without a sex cult; what can be done about that? Allison Mack sure ain’t hiring. Starting a sex cult is a tall order but one thing you can do today is have sex with just one person, and try to hypnotize them at some point. Use a Derren Brown voice. It might not be an entire organization YET but if it helps solve your abandonment issues then how harmful can it be?

The past isn’t the only thing that we should be wary of. Around this time of year, many of us start to talk about a much more dangerous fictional creation. THE FUTURE. It seems bright, exciting, full of hope and spaceships. Really though, how can we rely on it? Unlike the past, we don’t even have pottery or Tweets to prove that it is really going to happen. Living in the now is 50% past denial and 45% future skepticism. Here’s a few suggestions on how you can deal with future-tripping without having to quit acid-or-mushroom-tripping.

American friends (if such a thing exists) might cast their eye to the television (if such a thing exists) and spot a screenburnt image of President Donald Trump permanently etched onto their Samsung. Whether you intend to topple him from power or help carry his saggy leather anus into another four year term, planning ahead to November isn’t going to serve you or your country (hold on; did you even SERVE your country?!***) Nay, act today; drive to Pennsylvania Avenue, run through the lawns and expose yourself to him. If possible, leap your genitals up onto his hand. Just one more sex scandal will certainly be enough to EITHER end his presidency for good OR endear him to a whole new generation of morally stunted perverts and self-hating women. Which side you take just depends whether you smile or not.

Ice melts in your freshly-guzzled daiquiri number 3 and your thoughts turn to global warming, climate change and melting ice caps. Will it be twenty years, ten years or five? Will we survive, will we stay alive? All the rhymes in the world won’t help you find a solid answer to that stumper; we might even limp along for another 100 years and by that time we’ll have run out of shows to reboot and precious metals to fill our devices with. Fret not about the long-term stuff; Greta Thunberg’s doing the heavy lifting on that. Leave it to the kids. Meanwhile, what you can do today is run your home freezer overtime and make more ice to replace the stuff that’s melting at the poles. The bears will thank you later when they’re fat and fighting again.

So, you get the idea. If in 2019 you started a charity, ended poverty, voted for the good guys, ate less lamb, recognized gender fluidity to the point that you stopped using pronouns altogether; great, good for…person, but that was last year and those things are out the window now. Maybe you’re planning a marathon next year, kids in 2025, off-grid home and all-cannibal diet by next decade? Hot stuff but what are you gonna do today? Invent a new type of bread? Start a chain e-mail? Get freaky in an abandoned shop? The choice is yours. Go forth! And worry not of tomorrow, for she is but a data-gathering spybot on your device, listening to your every conversation; non-existent according to official sources, despite what seems like overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Happy new year.
*Yes, I meant LSD.
**Suitable only for the professional mobile phone user. Amateurs need not apply.
***Thank you for your service.

20seventeen-agers: A Year In Review

[I wasn’t really happy with this one, but I haven’t done any writing in forever and this is only a blog so I thought, fuck it. Let’s just post it so I can get on with another one.]

2017: Year in Review

Many people would have you believe that “Year in Review” articles are self-indulgent. Those people might say that these pieces are self-important and self-absorbed pieces of selfishness; that they should be self-flagellated into a self-imposed shelf at Selfridge’s. Many would also say the same thing about me.

Henceforth, we are the perfect combination for this year. Me writing a ‘year in review’ is as 2017 as, say, important men self-loving themselves in front of younger women. Even Donald Trump discrediting himself on Twitter in the wee hours of the morning couldn’t be more ‘hip’, more ‘now’.

So how did the year start out? It seemed that hella famous people died in 2016, as the bleeding fingers of countless Wikipedia contributors could attest. Mournfully changing the tense from ‘is’ to ‘was’ in the biography of a cultural icon became the hallmark of the year just passed. We can take solace that the death of David Bowie or Carrie Fisher must have seemed a tad less painful when softened with a bit of grammar correction.

One couldn’t help but detect a hint of morbid excitement on social media when Robocop’s Miguel Ferrara was the first to be claimed by Hollywood’s reaper. His output wasn’t quite on par with Alan Rickman’s but he did a lovely turn in NCIS: Los Angeles opposite LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell, both of whom are inexplicably still with us. In the end, losing Roger Moore and Jerry Lewis at 89 and 91 respectively didn’t seem to smart too badly on the collective consciousness. That consciousness may have learned that the first few generations of rock stars and actors who were really, truly worshipped by the little people had reached the age at which people just, kind of, die.

Meanwhile in my life, it was a time of new beginnings. A new flat share, a new iPhone, and a new comedy open mic to organise and host. Each separate experience has taught me something about life and death. As expected (by everyone but hopefully-optimistic me), sharing an apartment with two people I barely knew did NOT go well. I hadn’t dealt with this since my mid-20s, mainly because it’s for idiots; and an idiot is what I was in my mid-twenties.

Japanese share houses are great because, although you share common areas, like the toilet or the kitchen, most of your cohabiters would rather crap their pants or starve to death than risk interacting with another human being. Therefore, living with Japanese people is almost like living alone, but with ghosts. They don’t bother you unless you bother them. Americans, on the other hand, are like poltergeists.

So I learned, a part of me had died. The part which has patience for other people’s living habits. To that end, I finally respected myself enough to pay my hard-earned bucks for an apartment of my own in Shimokitazawa, and I’ve never been happier. This Starbucks I’m in right now has burlap sacks and a vintage globe on the wall, plus the coffees are 50% more expensive so, ya know, they must be good.

As for the iPhone, Apple nearly admitted ‘planned obsolescence’ at the end of the year when they informed the public that their phones were intentionally slowed in later life to avoid cutting out power completely as the battery aged. Of course, they got around it by calling it a feature, but isn’t it clear – as software upgrades are compulsory even on older phones – that they are stepping on the product so you’ll upgrade? It’s like cocaine dealers cutting your stuff with brick dust so you’ll pay more, or so I’m told. Or like when they took most of the nudity out of Game of Thrones in this year’s season 7.

Planned obsolescence isn’t a new thing. Apparently it started with a grand conspiracy regarding the sexiest piece of tech there is; the lightbulb. There’s a lightbulb in Livermore California which has been glowing since 1901 and is still going. Which proves that the original punchline to “How many men does it take to change a lightbulb?” was “None. Ever.”

Nowadays, it’s not lightbulbs but futuristic gadgets which pack up and die on us. Are we surprised though? These hugely complicated supercomputers in our pockets, which are worth a month’s wages to the average owner, are FRAGILE?! What a news headline; “Desirable Item, Valuable To Idiots, Has Limited Shelflife”. Who would have thought it? This is why I’m scared of the AI revolution; it’s not the singularity which worries me, it’s that I might buy the cheap brand of chef-bot and it ends up poisoning me. I just hope Kim Jong-Un bought his warheads from Apple a couple of years ago and set the software to Auto-Update.

So technology goes obsolete in a couple of years, and people complain, wanting something shiny and new almost immediately. Remind you of anything? That’s right; politics in 2017. A lot of disenfranchised white people in the USA right now are wondering what happened to the TwitterBot they invested all their votes in, also known as Trump. Why is it defective? Doesn’t it seem slower and more cumbersome than it did on display? Why is Canada’s one so much shinier and more efficient? I think we’ve been ripped off! Can we have the new model early?!

I refuse to let the thread I established earlier get lost, so; what that teaches me about life and death is that, so often we embark on things and give them life, hoping naively they will last forever. But sometimes we buy things, or start relationships, or take a trip that we know deep inside has a limited shelf life. And although we complain or mourn when they come to a close, these are the most realistic and mature things we will do in our lives.

The open mic at Titans Craft Beer Bottle Shop and Taproom in Otsuka, Tokyo came into existence around the end of January 2017. I often add “Laundromat”, “Stray Cats Home” or “School for the Deaf” to the end of their exceedingly long name when introducing the show, which is one of those running jokes which I love, but nobody among the audience, comedians or staff ever laughs at. Yet I will continue doing it until I am an old man with a colostomy bag. That, my friends, is comedy.

This ‘mic’ (a little bit of insider comedy shortform jargon for you there, you’re welcome) has been an unexpected success despite an intentional level of 0-10% promotion. I literally put up a Facebook event every week and share it with comedians. Sometimes I forget to even do that, and people message me like “Hey is it on?” and I’m like “Of course its on I’m just disorganised” but still, somehow, people turn up to watch us try out extremely patchy new jokes. And the tricky thing is, they love it. There’s nothing worse than trying a new joke out on a open mic audience and getting a huge laugh, only to try it at a bigger show and hear crickets. That’s why I fell in love with stand up; the unpredictability.

I crave excitement and variety in whatever I do, whatever I consume, whatever I pursue. Comedy delivers that in a way I can enjoy and not feel guilty about. So many modern endeavours are laced with shame; irresponsible drinking, illicit sex, voting. Even posting your opinions on social media. Hell, I can’t go to an all-you-can-eat buffet anymore without hiding in my bed for two days afterward. So, comedy has taught me about death, in that to die on stage is not to die in real life. You get another chance, and you get to really feel the magnitude of what you have done and learn from it. However, Louis C.K. proves the stage can’t always protect you, and that some things really aren’t universally funny.

Excitement and variety are great, but they can also be your undoing in romantic life. In 2017 may have been my most romantically turbulent year so far, which is kind of like saying it was Teresa May’s most unpopular decision regarding Brexit (aka pretty bad). I didn’t think anything could top 2016, but after reading my last Year In Review i’ve decided to review that opinion for this year.

My girlfriend and I were split up for six whole months; I tried to find a comparable relationship in the celebrity world, but there wasn’t one. There wasn’t even anyone I’d heard of. Being apart for a long time is hard; we stayed in contact but we also experienced what it was like to be without each other and the threat of losing everything forever was too much. Getting back together was even harder, and we dealt with more skeletons than this year’s Azerbaijani Eurovision entrant Dihaj (in fairness, this is a very niche reference) but we came out of it stronger than ever before.

Our new year’s resolution is to stay together all year. How sad is that? That’s the best we can expect from our relationship. That it will survive in some description. But you never know. Much like Bitcoin, we kept bouncing back after every crash. And our friends seem to have faith in us, even though a few of them sold their shares a while back. But one difference between us and Bitcoin is…we’re still not rich.

This year finished on a tragic and unexpected note for me and the other members of Tokyo’s stand up comedy community, one which I can’t cheapen by attaching it to any current affairs events. One of us passed away, at the criminally young age of 22. The way he went is still shrouded in mystery, as is the way in some cultures; his youth and the absence of details made many of us jump to conclusions, but a good few Facebook posts were deleted when the urge to share on social media was overtaken by the duty to respect the family.

I’m relieved to say I’ve never lost an immediate family member or very close friend before their time. I’ve said farewell to my grandmother and a few drinking buddies from Brighton, but my brother, my parents and the mates I’ve shared my closest moments with are all still here. But the passing of Nao made me realise, with the help of some of my fellow comics, that when you do comedy, you often end up seeing those other performers more than you see your ‘real’ friends. You share with them more than you might do your siblings, and they become more of a part of your day-to-day than your parents.

Therefore it’s difficult not to be selfish. Why didn’t I spend more time with him? Why didn’t we all talk to him more? But these things are not the point. However he left this mortal coil, we were all part of a thing he loved, and it may have given him more joy in life than we know. I’m scared that his memory will fade over time, but I guess the only way to avoid that is to keep his name alive, keep referencing Blink-182 and keep making bad puns with his name. So, goodbye, for Nao.

It’s a sombre note to end on, but it ties it up nicely. Life and death. That’s what we’re dealing with here. Careers live and die, stories live and die, businesses live and die, songs and relationships and smartphones and all the other little insignificant things live and die around us. And although it can be tragic and difficult and stressful and depressing to deal with, this bonanza of birth and extinction is healthy. The Year in Review, as it is, may seem self-centred and narcissistic in nature, but think of it as a eulogy, written by an observer, from a point of view of both mourning and joyful celebration, with a touch of self-reference thrown in.

See you next year.

England’s Gross Unpleasant Land

I’d like to start by saying that I don’t really feel the way this title suggests. I have taken about a six month break from updating this blog – WordPress furnishes me with near-infinite stats, yet still I guess wildly at things I could check in an instant – and in doing so, have decided to adopt a more stream-of-consciousness approach to suit my cosmopolitan lifestyle.

One thing I have done recently, aside from leaving facts unchecked and blogs unwritten, is visit the country of my birth, that gaping womb I recall as being so cosy and comforting for the first 29-and-three-quarter years of my life. Britannia (that took me three goes on the spell checker which is worryingly above my average, although ‘spell’ just took me two, and I started typing ‘spee’ when I typed it a second time, so perhaps I’m just tired); fabled ruler of the waves, although I’ve never seen them get big enough to carry more than a boogie board and a lobster-red young father.

I went home for the tri-purposes of seeing my family and friends, attending two weddings and diving headfirst into an icy pool of comedy open mic nights. To sum up this pyramid of pragmatics in a paragraph; my dad is livid because they had to leave Trump’s America (the ownership is unrelated as I feel Barack’s America had equally wide roads and good burgers); my mum is livid because the tenants who rented the family home turned out to be only slightly more responsible and respectful than I probably would have been when renting a house from a stranger; my friends are largely exactly the same as I left them which was ship-shape a year ago; both weddings were excellent but my ex-girlfriend’s one to my best mate was definitely the more awkward; and it turns out I spell “London’s open mic scene” the same way Alan Partridge spells London; “S-H-I-T-H-O-L-E shit’ole!”

Flippant as that last paragraph undoubtedly was, the golden thread of honesty was woven into it as Charles II’s seamstresses may have woven actual golden thread into his regal finery when he visited Edinburgh Castle (I also went to Edinburgh, but this is about England, and I’ll do a whole ‘nother one aboot Sortlund dornchee wurry yair wee heed. However, what I’m here to pass comment on is not my own tiresome antics but rather my C-Dogg’s Eye View on the state of the country still it started apparently falling apart at the seams after I left (that’s another sewing callback, holla.)

This soft little home counties boy has landed back on UK soil twice since leaving for Japan in October ’15, and both times I’ve felt immediately struck by the noise. Experimental street theatre creation Mel Gibson’s millennial star turn in What Women Want comes to mind, in that while the main character of said rom-com is imbued with the power of telepathy due to lightning or something and subsequently has his head filled with the deepest thoughts and feelings of all the surrounding women – threatening to turn him insane – I went from the pleasant background buzz of the Japanese language to a full frontal smack in the face of about 40 different English dialects jostling to reserve restaurants, fight with spouses, scold children and purchase ketamine all at once. It was hyper-reality come true and while I tried to refine the power into something that could be leveraged to my advantage, a Helen Hunt substitute never materialised.

Without leaning too hard on cliché, we won’t be able to finish this article without addressing the weather so, much like the Brussel sprouts on a Christmas dinner, let’s get it out of the way early regardless of the fallout. The weather was absolute dogshit about 80% of the time an even when it was nice, it was still that pathetic level of nice which reminds you of your nice friend who’s always nice to your mum but then he gets drunk and pisses everywhere and you never get invited back to the library so you stay inside for six weeks straight. The silver lining was I got to wear my leather jacket every day which made me infinitely more attractive, but sadly that’s still not much. I went to Lisbon but again, I’ve got another blog in my for that place so ciao I think.

It seems the real concerns global citizens have about Britain – and yes, despite the mess our teenage son is making of his move to adulthood, there is still some light cast upon us (America metaphor yo) – is our festering hate for one another. Now, that just goes to show how little the global community really know about us. We’ve always hated each other and, being such an ancient culture, that hate is preeetty well-festered. Truth is, I would go the opposite way and say that there is more love than ever in the communities I experienced. I had very little trouble from drunk idiots – apart from myself – and in the liberal enclaves of Manchester, London, Brighton and Edinburgh you couldn’t move for people hugging a trans kid or buying drinks for a viewing platform full of disabled mimes.

However the unseen but heavily present hatred for ‘the great Other’ resembled Jon Snow’s constant bellyaching about the threat of the White Walkers and how when they finally come down from beyond the wall you wouldn’t be able to stop them violating human rights and using private healthcare and sacrificing babies to put another Pole on a boat out of Portsmouth. On the few occasions I joined the Walkers behind enemy lines, they displayed a similar zombies-in-arms camaraderie paired with a monolithic confusion about how those Remainer humans managed to live in a constant state of Vegan Gay Pride without even ever reading the Daily Mail, at least once a week, even for the crossword.

I don’t believe England has changed, but I know I have, and I know the people around the world continue to become more different as the grow more similar. Scores of media professionals seem to be generated every day, STILL, at a time when I thought the media was dead when in fact it just stopped in it’s tracks for a bit while it regenerated, like a fresh green cicada emerging from it’s useless old brown shell. Eventually we’ll all be homogenized like the tomato, and we’ll all be a mushy a disappointing compromise of our formerly delicious selves, and then we’ll have to breed Heritage Humans which are supposed to taste like humans used to except nobody remembers what humans used to taste like because everybody’s soul died in the Millennium Bug.

I’m aware that this baffling river of turgid metaphor, tactically funny-sounding nouns and dangerously mixed bastardizations of someone else’s abridged opinions makes no sense whatsoever. But I refuse to proofread it tonight because it’s 23:11 and my dad always trolls me anyway, no matter what. So please enjoy my return to the fray and try not to take it too seriously. I haven’t.

 

An Open Letter

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[I don’t usually do this but I’ve recently gone through a break up and I feel like this blog is my only expression of catharsis these days. There’s nothing worse than being alone with your feelings and thoughts and worries if you can’t put them somewhere concrete in a way which feels satisfying and final. Saying that, writing a song requires you to refine it, perfect it and play it over and over again until it sounds right, and possibly more if people actually like it. A painting is much the same; even once you’ve gotten through the near-eternal slog of completing it, you then feel moved to put it on the wall, or some cunt buys it and reminds you of it by photographing it on Instagram or making millions from it in a highly publicised selling-on to the next cunt. No, I love little pseudo-prose blog post articles thingies, where you can force out your emotions in a concise yet precise manner and no-one might ever have to see it ever again. So whatever you do, whoever you are, don’t read this, ever.]

Dear You,

Where you are now is the house we never had. Tinted out windows with blinds shut down to slats, cutting out nearly everything I want and leaving the nosy neighbours’ nightmares. I thrust the keys into your hot dead hands, through the slits in your fingers and the slot in your mouth, knowing you didn’t want them but knowing you couldn’t give them back. Spells cast in lightning storms and torrential  floods of tears gave us these ideas at the start and never let up. Greenery and garden flowers grew briskly and brightly and briefly, overtaken by weeds in the time it took to blink an eye. We laid back in that bed so deep our heads almost hit roots. Trust us to get stuck in the mud when the rains came, too deep to crawl out but too shallow to trust in the mire that almost enveloped us. When I opened the door all I saw was the fuss out on the street and you weren’t even there, a living ghost buzzing and apparitioning around my enormous cranium so much that I swatted you away like a gadfly. Now I just want you out of my ointment. But the man reflected back at me in this black mirror I chose over your warm blood and soft skin is the same one I hated since day, the same ghastly bastard who hurt a thousand others before you. This dog never had an owner. Never had a scooper to clean up his shit. It just turned white in the sun just like dogshit used to back in the early 90s. I thought I just didn’t see white dog shit anymore because I moved out of the countryside but, it turns out, it just went out of style. Just like the house we never had, it was razed to the ground before anyone moved a solitary box in. We built it with our words and our dreams, even down to the baby’s room with the white crib and the painted walls. Even down to the baby, with her slanted eyes and her silly name. We had everything, the whole house, every pane in every window, every hinge on every door, every frame on every picture and every rug on every floor. All we were missing was the foundations.

In short, I’ll always love you, just not like you wanted me to.

All the best,

Him

Misheard Song Lyrics Come True Part 1: The City of Children

Back at Glastonbury 2011, a friend of mine couldn’t stop singing R. Kelly’s post-Fly pre-Ignition (Remix) epic ‘Gotham City’, lead soundtrack choice for the appalling Batman & Robin, last known sighting of Chris O’ Donnell. However, he didn’t really know the words, so he just kept singing about the ‘City of children, city of justice, city of pain’ in between convincing us to go with him to Beyonce and reloading with ketamine. I couldn’t help but let my mind run wild with his butchered version of the lyrics, visualising a dystopian future where children run the Earth. Now I’ve finally committed it to words. Enjoy this very short story. Thanks to my friends for the inspiration. You know who you are.

Love,

C-Dogg xx (14-2-2017)

The doctor must have unhooked me from the machine, at long last, as I found myself bare ass naked in a puddle of freezing slime, on the floor of a sterile laboratory which had been inexplicably remodelled since I went under. Strange art hung on the walls; daubed rainbow colours, crude houses, the sun featured heavily as an anthropomorphic demigod. They almost looked like children’s paintings, except the crude representations of adults were notably absent. As I struggled to my hands and knees, the doctor addressed me in high-pitched tones.

“Wake up poopy head! You silly sandwich. It’s time to play. I’m a zookeeper and you’re a cheetah.”

“Uh…what?!” I asked as I attempted to stand on shaking legs, left feeling stringy after centuries of protein injections and frozen stasis.

“NO! Too late. Now you’re Mr. Boo Boo Ba Ka Chicken Face and I’m NinjaGo Lego Star Wars Buzz Lightyear Man. Go!”

The diminutive doctor flew out of the room, spreading his arms like wings and making an engine sound by blasting air through his pursed lips. He couldn’t have been more than a metre in height and his lab coat was way oversized, hanging over his tiny hands as he feigned the power of flight. Confused by what had happened but relieved by the fast return of proper motor function to my body, I reached for the towel and belongings I left in my locker back in 2017 and prepared myself to face the future.

Descending the cold iron stairs of the building, I didn’t see much else out of place, besides how filthy it was. A thick layer of dust covered everything, save for strange tracks which seemed to have been made by toy cars, and garbage was strewn around all over the place. On walking out of the door, however, I was confronted with a scene the likes of which I had never even imagined. I left New York City in the best state it’s ever been in; the five boroughs were cleaner, warmer, homelier and more gentrified. I expected more of the same when I embarked on this journey; an explosion of logical, minimalist architecture with, at worst, a homogenous uniformity but at best a sleek, ergonomic landscape.

What I was greeted with looked like the inside of Pee Wee Herman’s mind, executed by the world’s biggest kindergarten class. Coloured blocks of all sizes, letters and numbers dominated the streets, serving as prefab furniture, blockades, territorial lines and impromptu trading centres. Enormous paper drapes were hung up from crumbling buildings, showing horrific scenes of turtles, ponies and Elsa from Frozen. How was she still popular?

The aforementioned crumbling buildings were the same ones I had left behind three hundred and twenty-eight years ago, still standing but for a few which had buckled under some forgotten disaster. However, the brickwork and cement – even in some cases the glass – had seen many fresh layers of brightly coloured paint. The only problem was, the paint didn’t appear to be of the correct type for outdoor use, so red buildings had taken on the hue of ancient bloodstain, green buildings the unsettling palette of moss and yellow ones were reminiscent of severely dehydrated urine. Furthermore, whoever painted them had only been able to reach about four feet off the ground and two feet below the windows. Therefore, many spots had been missed.

While gaping at the brownstones, I heard a large group of people coming toward me. The street had been eerily quiet until that moment but I couldn’t help but marvel at how high-pitched the screams were. I tried to avoid eye contact but as they drew into my immediate vicinity, I couldn’t help but flit my eyes over. There were about 25 of them, all surrounding a small red and yellow car without an engine. It seemed to be being propelled Fred Flintstone-style by two feet running along the ground below. The others carried sticks and other weaponry made of cereal boxes and milk cartons cut up and taped together. One or two of the lightsabers were actually quite impressive.

The mob darted clumsily past me but, just as I thought I could escape down an alley, they addressed me. Being as I was on a very permanent fact-finding mission to the future, I felt it was my duty to engage them, despite my nervousness and the fact that the ring leader had visibly soiled much of the inside of his vehicle.

“Greetings,” I said, the tremble in my voice immediately apparent. “I mean you no harm. I am known as Mr. Reggio. I am but a worldly traveller to this great city, here to partake in your culture and enjoy your exulted foreign way of life,” I bellowed, trying my best to channel the great explorers of history, as Dr. Livingstone likely did many years before I was born.

The alpha female paused and cocked her head to one side, as if she didn’t understand me. Perhaps English had been usurped as the lingua franca in this curious society?

“What’s your name?” She, like the rest of her posse, was small and pallid, with a running nose and protruding belly. Her hair was matted and her clothing bore a striking resemblance to Princess Belle’s famous yellow dress, albeit shredded to within an inch of its life.

“Mr. Reggio” I slowly repeated. She had replied to me in English, but why had she not understood me the first time?

“Mr. Spleggio Feggio Fart Bum. We are go the play centre for sharing time. Come!”

The mob broke away with stunning acceleration, leaping over miniature trains and hollow plastic balls in makeshift pits made from sinkholes in the road. It hadn’t been resurfaced in years and barely resembled tarmac anymore. Rats scuttled through damp trenches, dressed in pink clothing which looked as if it could have belonged to a Barbie doll. Had the rats evolved a sense of fashion? Or was this another odd custom of the tribe I had just met, who were rallying in the vague direction of Times Square.

Reluctantly, I gave chase. manoeuvring through the wasteland in front of me which was increasingly proving to be a graveyard for all the world’s toys. Pogs, Cabbage Patch Kids, Bog Monsters, Ghostbusters, Power Rangers, all types of Lego, Duplo, Brio trains, Marvel comics figures, DC comics figures, Pollly Pockets, Lucy Lockets, Tickle Me Elmos, Potty Time Elmos, LOL Elmos, Sticklebricks, Polydrons, Tazos. It was like all the basements and storage lofts and toy stores in the tri-county area had been looted and emptied into the streets to be abused for a while and then cast aside when they lost their entertainment value.

My pursuees were a tricky bunch, navigating effortlessly under obstacles that I had great difficulty getting past. However, my larger stride gave me an advantage on the straights. Why were they so small? I feared that the growing population would have a negative effect on nutrition, but I couldn’t have predicted it would stunt growth dramatically across the board in a mere couple of centuries. Perhaps they were leading me to a bustling urban centre which could fill in a few more of the blanks in this ever-more-baffling puzzle.

As I bounded after them down the sodden wet remains of West 46th Street, they turned a corner onto Times Square itself, just when I thought things couldn’t get any queerer.

What used to be the international face of bright lights, big city, Broadway, Vaudeville, entertainment and touristy commercialism had at once changed completely and yet stayed exactly as it was, frozen in time while time had continued to march on around it. All the big screens and billboards were still there, hanging by frayed iron threads and mostly blank of messages or graphics, except for two gargantuan, towering images that my eyes wouldn’t let me break away from. One was the poster for Jersey Boys, heartlessly defaced with sprays of brightly painted phalluses, clearly applied with powerful Super Soakers which had been abandoned directly in front. They were sun-faded and cobwebbed now. It was surrounded by other posters for musicals which had been similarly tarnished, however Mamma Mia had remained unscathed due to it’s great height above the ground.

The second was an enormous Jumbo-Tron screen – one I remember had shown previews for upcoming movies and glossy, big-budget adverts for cars and beer – which was adorned with a live feed from a webcam pointed awkwardly at a fuzzy pinkish figure in a derelict room. The surroundings reminded me of where I had emerged from cryo-stasis, right down to the bizarre imagery on the walls and the dirty, yet well-preserved interior decoration. Were we about to hear from their leader?

Suddenly the image centred and focused and I caught a full view of the one who controlled their media. I was so shocked I could hardly breathe. “Good God,” I muttered under my breath “It is a child.” I had been doubting those vague thoughts in my head since I encountered my doctor upon thawing. There’s simply no way. How? How did they mate? How did they survive? It was just…not possible.

“OK it sharing time. I think time to share. COME HERE PLEASE.” The leader roared into the camera, flailing limbs around and bouncing up and down, not sure whether to sit or stand or climb on the small wooden chair beneath her. She had a mixed race look about her, with frizzy black hair, wide Asian eyes and a tall caucasian nose. Her skin had a slightly olive, yet pallid pink colour I had never seen before in my life.

“COME HERE NOW PLEASE I SAID!” She squealed down the mic, creating a spike of feedback which made the hastily assembling crowd cover their ears and scream no as if they were allergic. Yet they still poured in from all sides; 47th, 7th Ave, the Rockefeller Centre, but mostly the Disney Store, where they appeared to have fashioned a makeshift capital in their deceptively large community. A circle was forming in the dead centre, where the traffic usually crossed, and two children were facing off inside, dirty and crying and exhaling shakily about thrice every second. They appeared to have had a disagreement but it was unclear what, as there were no toys or snacks anywhere to be seen.

“Iss MINE!”

“No you dint have first it. Dey MINE. MINE MINE!”

It wasn’t until I had been watching them duel verbal blows for nearly two minutes when I looked behind and saw the first two normal sized people I had seen since I woke up. They appeared to be young adults but there was a glazed look in their eyes – visible behind the struggling and noise-making – which seemed to suggest that they weren’t ‘all there’, even though they didn’t seem to have any mental or physical impairment. I tried to catch their eyes but they hardly seemed to notice me, and neither did the accompanying mob of kids. I was just an observer in some kind of warped legal exercise.

While I had been staring, the leader had said nothing and when I looked around, the room on the Jumbo-Tron was empty. Just then, through the assembled rabble, came hers truly, the very one who had been up there in Jumbo-Vision just five minutes ago, flanked by a crew of feral-looking child lieutenants. They entered the circle and I could feel that justice was about to be done. She spoke calmly and directly

“Well it’s too bad because it’s my city and it’s my rule so I will take it and share it just betweem me and you can have it after.” The way she dealt with the fracture seemed level-headed. Sensible even. Perhaps this bizarre tribe of future-babies had evolved after all.

She approached the adults and one of her flunkies pushed a rolling miniature staircase up next to her. She ascended to around chest height, and reached into her diaper, from which she pulled a jagged piece of glass and disembowelled the first, then looked up the second adult’s face as he cried and vomited all over his shirt, before giving him the same treatment. She then descended the steps – as zen as one could possibly be – toddled off out of the circle without saying anything. The assembly cheered and shouted and got on with playing with whatever toys were to hand while I ran over to the adults to see if they were OK.

I could see that the first one was already dead, as she was not expecting the blow. Her entrails hung out of her belly like a Play-Doh Fun Factory, which was coincidental as there actually was one lying in the street about 50 metres away and it did look startlingly similar. The male, who got hit with an afterthought of a second slice, was coughing up blood but still had the light of life in his eyes.

“How….d-did you…g-get so…old?” he stuttered, which made me a tad offended before I snapped back to the situation.

“I’m not from around here,” I replied, softly but with a spoonful of mystery.

“Leave. Leave n-now. They will play with you, and convince you to d-do things for them, like wipe…w-wipe their asses, and clean up and….and….hook up large scale multimedia equipment. Then the others get jealous and want your attention. By then it’s too l-l-late. Once someone says share, well…you’re already d-dead.” He seemed to be losing consciousness yet he was somehow giving me a concise roundup of the information I wanted to know.

“How old are you? They all seem to be around kindergarten age.” I could tell I was losing him.

“I’m twelve. She’s th-th-thirteen. After we had the baby, it’s like they were w-w-” He stopped speaking mid-word and his eyes widened, fixing me with a stare colder than his dying hand.

“What?” I gently begged to hear the rest.

“W-w-w….waiting.” And with that his head flopped down like a ragdoll – again, I knew because there was a very similar ragdoll discarded nearby – and that was that.

Waiting for what? Waiting for the baby to be born so they could kill them? Waiting to exhale? Waiting for Godot? What?! How would I ever know the truth about this insane world I had woken up in?

So I ran. Ran away from New York. Away from fabled Gotham and all it had come to be. I ran all the way back to that building way down West 46th Street where I had frozen myself in stasis for so many years just to see what the future held for America. As I was running I remembered what I left behind; a world of uncertainty, of fear, of suspicion. I remembered the world I envisaged for us; a place of hope, of love, of peace. And then I looked around the place it had come to be; the city of justice. City of pain. City of children.

When I walked back into the room I knew I couldn’t freeze myself. I looked over and there it was. A place to hide. A place for a new life. I trapped myself in the closet.

 

Fascists And Liberals Alike: Are You Ready For Violence?

Not my president. Build that wall. hospitalize your local fascist. Trump nation, whites only. The only good fascist is a dead one. Heil Trump.

The American people sure are hatin’ on each other, if the latest selection of memes, t-shirts and graffiti slogans are anything to go by. This is nothing new of course, but much of the threat is once again leaning towards the physical side, as it has done many times over the years in this large and fractured country. Additionally, in the post-Twitter age the looming shadow of violent protest comes along with widespread, crowdsourced debate on the moral implications, ranging from the eloquent and informed to the ignorant and reactionary.

The incident in question, as you probably already know, is alt-right leader Richard Spencer being smacked full in the face by an anonymous anti-Trump protestor on inauguration day in DC. If you haven’t yet seen the video – perhaps you’ve been subject to a rather epic weekend drug bender, or otherwise you’ve been resident in the jungle looking for a new species of water-rat – you should check it out. While feebly denying he is a Neo-Nazi (didn’t you know he is Neo-Neo?), and stating that the Ku Klux Klan don’t really like him (they’re not known for liking anyone to be fair) he receives a very satisfying right hook to the head, which undoubtedly smarted both physically and ideologically.

There’s no doubt it’s satisfying to watch. There’s not enough videos of real people getting punched in the head. UFC is the fastest-growing sport in the world and Hollywood continues to attempt a realistic knuckle sandwich in every other movie to quench the public’s thirst for mild fist-related violence. But nothing can compare to the real thing; a full-fledged sucker punch out of stage right. Not only that, but reading his political views on non-white races, which border on Eugenics, led this writer to the conclusion that he very much deserved a battering on live telly.

But here’s where I start to have trouble. A welcome and fertile discussion has opened up about whether those campaigning and striving for freedom, progressive values, racial and sexual and gender equality and general awesomeness should be tied up and connected with violence. My personal opinion is no, because human beings have to try to be better than that. But many other make the dramatic yet somewhat relatable point that if you don’t answer violence with violence then you are paving the way for the rise of fascism.

Sure, I feel both sides are very welcome to their respective opinions. I don’t believe Donald Trump is a fascist, but Spencer clearly is; he is a separatist who feels the USA should become a whites-only superstate and everyone else should be sent back to their ancestral homelands. Aside from wondering just how exactly he and the other white nationalists would make use of all the extra space, I think he is fighting a ridiculous uphill battle. The man is highly deluded and if his visions of ‘peaceful ethnic cleansing’ (whatever that is) were to become a reality then it would prove that humanity really has regressed to its nadir. But as long as the insanity of his ideals are clearly outlined to all who might hear the bile spew from his mouth, I don’t believe him to be dangerous as a political force on his own.

And if you want to punch him, go ahead. I’m sure if he got punched enough it would make him think twice before spreading hatred, and it’s true that dyed-in-the-wool racists can’t be cured by hugs. But my worry is, don’t preach violence if you don’t want to get involved yourself. I’ve seen many and varied people of my own acquaintance take to social media and wax lyrical on the virtues of assaulting neo-Nazis. These people have probably not even been close to punching anyone for ten years or more. And not because they were DM-clad racist-stompers back in the day who retired to make way for the new guard, but because they punched someone at school once and never did it again because it actually hurt their hand and they got in trouble with the head teacher.

This is a generalisation of course but my point is this; if you want to indulge in violence to fight for a cause you believe in, it has to be your decision. You have to reap the consequences for that violence, and you have to be sure that the poor idiot on the receiving end of the attack actually deserves it. You should be sure that you know their story, that you understand where they come from, that they have made it clear that their viewpoint is so morally and ethically bankrupt that what they need is you to swoop in with a well-timed Glasgow kiss which will knock the misogyny or the bigotry or the homophobia right out of them.

And what then? What happens if you lay a textbook haymaker on your local scumbag in front of all the TV cameras, but the guy goes down like a sack of shit, hits his head on the curb and bleeds to death? It happens more than you might think. Will your ski mask really be good quality enough to disguise your face when you’re wanted for manslaughter? Did you leave any clues on your Twitter that you were out Nazi bashing at that exact time of day?

OK, so you’re not going to do the deed, but you’re going to support Richard Spencer’s attacker and cast your vote for the side of violent protest. Go for the Malcolm X way of thinking just after Martin Luther King Jr. day. But your message, along with the thousands of other vocal supporters, triggers another anti-Trump or anti-alt-right protest which turns violent. Young kids throw on their fliest black threads and go looting, hoping to club a real-life KKK member with a baseball bat before bashing an Apple store window in and grabbing an iPhone 7. Only this time, the KKK brought bigger guys, with bigger bats, and the fight goes the Nazis’ way.

Sobering thought isn’t it? Best case scenario, a thoroughly unlikable weasel with a warped world view gets humiliated in the form of a viral video, weakening his cause and bringing discredit to his name. Worst case…well, I think I already covered that. But if you’re a good enough writer to pipe up on social media, write something useful and get it out there. Even better, go to a non-violent protest. Get involved in community outreach. Make friends with some people you wouldn’t usually make friend with – maybe from a different race, religion or political leaning – and show them what a cool and lovely person you are. Write a song. Do a podcast. Make YouTube videos.

Leave the violence to the people who are steeped in it, whose life has always involved hurt and pain and evil. We don’t need any more of that in the world than we’ve already got.

Let’s please try and move the human race forward. In summary, I would like to respond to those who equate a masked man sucker-punching Richard Spencer in DC to an Allied soldier punching a Nazi on the battlefields of France in World War 2. The likelihood is, nobody ever punched a Nazi on those battlefields. They shot and killed them in the freezing cold in vast muddy fields full of corpses, or in shadowy corners of abandoned farmhouses. They were probably haunted by the ghost of everyone they killed until their last day. If anyone ever acutally punched a Nazi, they were probably eviscerated by a bayonet mere seconds later. Punching didn’t do anything to stop World War 2. Violence started World War 2. The USA has been pretty much constantly at war, in some country or another, ever since VJ day 72 years ago.

Fuck Richard Spencer but most of all fuck violence.

Get Changed, And I Don’t Mean Your Clothes

[I haven’t been updating the blog much recently; I’ve spent a lot of my time on life admin, moving into my new place, exploring, notifying the various authorities and getting back to work after more than three weeks off. Also, I’ve been doing a lot of comedy recently which tends to take up my evenings. In fact, I’ve got a comedy show in two hours and I still don’t know what I’m going to do in my five minute set. Thus, I am just going to rattle off some thoughts here. It might not be the smoothest or funniest read but I hope there’s a bit of wisdom in amongst the ramble. Enjoy.

EDIT: having just finished, I’d like to apologise for the picture; it is awful but I didn’t have any more time to trawl Google. Please try to look at it with a sense of irony, and as a satirical comment on the proliferation of poor quality stock photos used on blogs.Woman-telling-off-man.jpg]

I used to be young. Very young indeed. Many people tell me that I still am. And upon learning how old they are, I was inclined to agree. But I used to be much younger, and if it’s possible, much stupider even than I am now. I think about it all the time, particularly how easy it all was back then, a time with no pressure or responsibilities. I recall being a teenager and wishing I was still in primary school, playing Power Rangers while unwittingly eating carcinogenic foods. Then being in my early twenties and wishing I was still a teenager, coasting through GCSEs and getting the giggly kind of stoned. However, I kind of expected that until I had kids, the difficulty level would plateau and I would hone and practise the art of being an adult.

So how did it get even harder? I mean, don’t get me wrong, The Dogg is getting along OK. I’m hardly scraping out trash cans or sleeping on a bag in the hallway. At least, not anymore. But I realised that it didn’t get any easier like I thought it would. I’m 31 and still no kids in sight but that’s partly because I still haven’t worked out how to take care of myself. I have pretty much accepted the fact that the latter won’t ever happen, while the former probably will. This means my children are simply going to have to look after me from day one. To say they will be neglected is wrong, because I probably won’t have a job so I’ll have a lot of time for them, and their GM-based diet means that they will be able to overpower me by the age of three.

Today is different. Now I finally feel like I’m getting better. At 31 I feel like the plateau is disappearing and the hill is getting steeper and steeper. I’m getting results, but it’s also getting tougher and more exhausting, both physically and mentally. I was trying to figure out the reason, and I was thinking so hard about what caused this sudden personal growth spurt that I forgot to call my girlfriend and tell her when I was going to drop off the suitcase I borrowed from her. So I arrived late and she was upset, because she left dinner early for me and waited and waited, and I didn’t respond. At first I didn’t get why; she knows me. My mind wanders and I forget to do things which are required of me. The fact that I remembered to bring the suitcase from the pub was enough of an achievement for me that she should have been happy with that.

So I effectively told her to take a chill pill and ended it on an angry tone. But when we went our separate ways it dawned on me; I didn’t want to forget to call again. Well, maybe I would forget once or twice in the future, I’m only human. But whereas I used to do it all the time, now I’m doing it less often, and maybe if I try hard that behaviour will go away, because I know she doesn’t like it. I’ve never had that feeling before, because I’m selfish and I realised that I always had too much pride and ego to ever let a woman change me. That’s why I’ve remained the same for such a long time, and that’s why I’m going to start letting my partner help me be a better person.

You can only get so far one your own. If you’re learning an instrument, it doesn’t matter how much you claim to be self taught, you can’t be a truly great musician without studying under someone who knows what they’re doing. As a comedian, you can write great jokes but they might not work on stage. Unless you let other comics and the audience help you to realise why a punchline didn’t work, you’ll keep bombing and bombing until there’s no point in doing it anymore.

It hurts to change. You get so used to what you are, who you are. I always figured that, “I’ve got a lot of friends, I’ve survived OK so far, I don’t need anyone to tell me how to be better.” Yeah, right. I survived because I’m lucky but I hardly set the world on fire. I’ve got a ton of friends but I’ve also burned so many bridges that my lighter has almost run out of fluid. Of course I need someone to tell me how to be better! I’m not gonna do it myself.

I never let myself get better in my previous relationships. But then, those women never challenged me. They accepted me for who I am, which at the time I loved, but now I realise it was the wrong thing to do. I don’t blame them of course, that wouldn’t be fair. But everyone needs a partner who can help them be better, so the couple is more than the sum of its parts. Of course, I don’t want it to go too far the other way. There are points about me that are great; I make an awesome sandwich, I can play guitar and I have great taste in trousers. Some things can’t be improved. And if you try and change someone too much, they lose their individuality and their identity. Those two things are all I’ve got, apart from the pants. But I wouldn’t let that happen, and I trust she wouldn’t do that to me.

Here’s where I lose half of my readers; women are put on this Earth to change men. That’s what they’re here for. Men are strong and crazy and loud and capable of anything, just like women are. But the difference is that women don’t need men to get better. They are how they are, pretty much. They’ll always be flawed but they just streamline it. A woman’s energy goes into a lot of things but a great deal will be dedicated to improving their partner. Men don’t do that. Women do, if they see potential. Without women, us men would be devoid not only of straight sex, which is how we view it when we’re shooting the shit with the buddies, but we would also kill each other because we’d all be unimproved assholes all the time. I’m guessing gay guys must be born perfect so they don’t need women, and lesbians are high functioning so they need a challenge.

Life is getting better. Alex is getting better. I’m more considerate, more controlled, less rude, better looking, healthier and generally much improved in a variety of ways. There’s still a long way to go and I’ll always be an asshole really. I may not be mean about people in private anymore, but at least I still have a stage and a microphone where I can tell everyone to shut the fuck up. So if you’re in a relationship and she’s trying to change you, the old me would have said dump her, but the new C-Dogg says let her in and get improved because no matter how great you think you are, you could be 100 times better.

 

Don’t Be The Racist At A Comedy Show (Or The MC Who Nearly Put Him On Stage)

 

img_2810The English-speaking world is once again on a trajectory toward total political correctness. I say the English-speaking world as it’s the only one I can speak on with much authority. But certain parts of it sure do seem to be taking the trolley of social justice full speed down a one way street to Censorship Central. It’s gone so far that it has become offensive in itself. Just recently, former music channel MTV caught flak for their Resolutions for White Guys viral video, damning WASPMs for every hate crime under the sun, including such heinous trespasses as mansplaining, All Lives Matter and apparently just, well, being white and not feeling guilty about it. YouTubers of all races and both genders are calling it racist and sexist, and I’m sure at least a few of them are sincere and not fishing for views.

I understand that the political correctness movement is necessary in this world to avoid causing people genuine hurt, but I start to get upset when it affects people’s sense of humor. Comedy is a wonderful thing because it makes light of the stuff we usually take so seriously and therefore has the potential to bring joy to the darkest subject. These terrible facts of life are unavoidable so why not confront them with laughter?

It seems so simple, and yet political correctness is slowly killing that ethos, or at least choking it out a little too long after it uses the safe word. World renowned comedians are now refusing to play US college campuses because of social justice warriors pouring scorn on them via Twitter for every controversial routine they perform. Chris Rock, Russell Peters, Patton Oswalt, Jerry Seinfeld…yes even Seinfeld, king of the clean act, eschewer of the ‘n’ word, stalwart of sexlessness thinks PC has gone too far. And I agree. Which is why, when I host a night, my theory is that everyone gets their five minutes with no questions asked and as long they get a few laughs, they can come back. No subject is off-limits. No censorship.

With this mantra in mind, I was approached by a large, awkward man at the bar just before show time. Here’s how he taught me that being open to everyone’s views, no matter how controversial, doesn’t always work out.

I was the guest MC for the evening and he asked me if he could come up and do a set some time in the future.

“Of course mate,” I said.

“Cool. So do I have to sign up or what?”

“No, just contact us when you’re ready and we will find a slot for you.”

“OK great. And do you need any videos of me or anything like that?” He asked the question tepidly, as if it was a deal breaker.

“No, if you’re new at this then it’s ok.”

“Are you sure you don’t need to vet me?”

At this point I heard a tiny alarm bell go off in the back of my head. No comic had ever asked to be vetted before, not for a three-minute set. But I put it down to inexperience, gave him my email address and got on with the evening’s entertainment.

Aside from a couple of loud Hawaiians to stage left, it was a great show; first of 2017, all the acts were funny, heck even I was funny. I realize now that I had quickly forgotten my conversation with the wannabe – going by the name of Stan – who wanted to be vetted, and I brought him into my crowdwork game ‘Can’t Hear Ya Mate’. Despite instantly cracking the rules of the game – a secret I will guard until my death at 38 in the library with the candlestick – he displayed an acute distaste at being picked on, as if he felt in some way victimized.

This should have been another early warning sign, but I soldiered on, focusing entirely upon my bizarre, post modern patter and making sure everyone kept to their time. Along came the half time break and on to the second half, where we had a friend of a friend over from London by the name of Tariq, a big mixed raced chap who was great company over dinner just an hour or two previously, and Aziz, also a big mixed race chap from England who is one of our best local comics and I’m sure is thrilled to finally get a mention in this blog.

I hadn’t even begun to notice that we had two fellows with rather Muslim names on the bill. I don’t think like that. I think, I don’t care what your name is, are you funny? I’ve spent half my life going by C-Dogg for fuck’s sake. But from my vantage point at the bar, checking out Tariq’s snappy one-liners, I heard an overly loud, slurred American mumble coming from the stool behind me, certainly laced with venom even though I couldn’t make out the words. He almost threw our visitor off, so I turned round and realized it was Stan, he of the requested vetting. I asked him politely to respect the comedian’s and carried on about my duties.

A successful set by Tariq – and some less successful new joke trials by me – later, it was time to bring on our de facto headliner Aziz for eight minutes of hilarity. With around five years’ experience, this comedian knows how to handle a crowd and is unlikely to crumble when things don’t go according to plan. But when, not even halfway through a crucial set up, the trigger words “…Brexit and Trump…” slipped out of his mouth, he unwittingly unleashed a shitstorm even the greatest of meteorologists couldn’t have predicted. Stan got out of his chair at the mention of America’s backcombed soon-to-be overlord and screamed “WHOOO! YEAH!! WHOOO HOOO!”

Now, who am I to suppress the pride of the Great American Voter? If you don’t wish to keep it to yourself then so be it, but don’t interrupt my mate in the midst of his vital first minute. So I had stern words with Stan and warned of course that he would lose the set he so desired if he were to pipe up again. Aziz obviously took him to task using a few well-placed quips and putdowns on the mic, as is his right and duty. Stan’s glazed-over eyes suggested that he hadn’t listened, but he did sit down…for about thirty seconds, at which point he bounced up for a spirited “ALLAH AKHBAR!” Well, it seemed at this point that he might well be a racist, but we weren’t sure quite yet. Anyway, Aziz decided to take it into his own hands by bringing him to the stage. This only made things worse as the clumsy giant tried to claw the microphone out of Aziz’s hands like a bear fighting for a salmon.

Eventually the wayward behemoth finally returned to his seat, and I kept a watchful eye over him, picturing how I might be able to manoeuvre his sizeable frame out of the door on the opposite side of the pub. I decided that I would need at least two others and it certainly couldn’t be done in a subtle manner, so I restrained myself from restraining him. As Aziz took his set home, after a prodigious recovery, I did my duty and took the stage to close the night. Thanking the audience and the bar staff as always, I chose to end the night with a cautionary flourish, letting the audience know that uninvited participation and interrupting comedians on stage is not going to make for the best show.

Quite reasonable I thought, but then Big Stan jumped up and decided I had persecuted him for his political views. “There’s no room for my beliefs,” he cried across the room, as if he were a street performer and this was all a calculated Borat-style fracas, cooked up by yours truly. It wasn’t. He once again tried to take the stage, as if he always intended it to be a soapbox for his increasingly suspect opinions, but landlord Paul took this opportunity to escort him out. As he left, he shouted something about muslims in Japan while being forced out of the door. At this point, it was abundantly clear he was a racist. I quipped that I wish it was this Stan who died in the Eminem song, which was pretty rough in retrospect but got a good laugh at the time (the only thing that counts).

My parting shot was that everyone is entitled to their views and everyone gets their three minutes to prove if they’re funny or not. If you’re not funny, then you won’t be invited back. Simples. But I’m so glad that this guy jumped up and acted like an asshole, because although Aziz’s set had to suffer, I learned that political correctness is there for a reason. I still don’t agree with people getting offended at controversial comedy, but if it prevents us from being lambasted with negativity, bigotry, racism and hate then it can’t be all that bad.

I’ve learned that, if someone seems weird, they might be. So always vet them just in case. I am still hoping he emails me though.

love C-Dogg

[Sorry this is a bit disjointed, I ended up writing it in three sessions when it only really needed one. I’ve been moving house so everything has been upside down for me. I’ll be back on the blogging in 217 because people are enjoying them and I genuinely feel like I’m becoming a better writer. Also this is the year of submissions so if you have any ideas of articles I should write or publications/websites I should submit to, then let me know.]

2016: A Year In Review, or My Horrible Anus

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I’d like to just dwell on the title for a minute. If you hadn’t already noticed, it’s rather clever. Anything that involves even a basic understanding of modern Latin remnants is cerebral by my usually humble standards, so if you haven’t got it yet I would like to point out two things. First of all, my rectum is fine. Aside from a persistent nappy rash that I am fastidiously treating with a course of Sudocrem, it’s tip top. Furthermore, my year, or annus for the purposes of the joke, was actually quite good.

First off let us deal with the nitty gritty before sounding off about how great I am. Arguably the defining badge sewn proudly onto the Scout jumper of 2016 is that of the Celebrity Grim Reaper. It certainly seemed bizarre when we lost Bowie, Rickman and Nelson (Prince Rogers, not Willie…yet) and many of us were happily anthropomorphising the year as some sort of nefarious graveyard for our biggest creative talents. Corbett seemed a little less vital, but still a hugely talented tiny man. Once people started calling “Whyyyyy?” at Jerry Heller or Alan Thicke, we could all feel that the wheels had come off of this wagon.

Predictably, the tide of favour turned against 2016’s detractors, with many of the world’s finest Twitter and Facebook smart-arses smugly stating that the year didn’t kill them, the baby boomers are just reaching the end of their collective mortal coil all at once. Thanks guys, good job you’re not painfully patronising. So I thought it my responsibility to do some extremely rudimentary research and find out once and for all how 2016 ranks against 2015 in terms of notable obituaries, the idea starting from a drinking game where we went through every single one and you had to drink if you actually cared.

So for 2015 I went through the first list I could find on Just Jared, and ignoring my reservations about who decides which of these deaths count as celebrities, I counted  14 who I gave a shit about, one of whom was BB King, a man so old he may indeed have been the king of Egypt before their monarchy was abolished in 1953. On the other hand, 2016 racked up a brutal 26, and I was so selective that I didn’t even include Chyna or Harambe. So that’s that solved; 2016 had a bigger body count than The Walking Dead and also had a less believable plot. And one more thing; it was DEFINITELY caused by the mystical powers of those 365 days just passed.* Let’s hope 2017 isn’t such a psycho.

Leaving Europe was a point of contention in 2016 for most Brits, but not this guy. My decision to up sticks to Japan – admittedly made in the latter part of 2015, but I was drunk for most of that time – was probably the best thing I’ve ever done. Living here is not quite paradise; the bacon isn’t great and people pretty much sit on you at the beach, crowded as it is, but it’s as close to paradise as I’m going to get. It’s manic yet peaceful, safe yet unfamiliar, gorgeous to look at and always open 24 hours, much like yours truly. I’ve met a ton of new friends and said goodbye to a couple too. This country has been good to me for the past 14 months and I plan to pay it back by at least learning how to speak the language without cacking my panties and running away.

The world’s biggest job held interviews this year and they announced they were going to hire that horrible guy who nobody liked when he turned up to the office that time. I guess they eventually gave in to the lies on his CV. “So you’ve listed your swamp-draining skills as ‘expert’. We could use a good swamp drainer.” I myself got a new job in a fantastic school teaching fantastic kids and working with other fantastic people. I’m learning a great deal and I’m in the best position I’ve ever been in, so my new year’s resolution is to not fuck that up. I’m going to hold up my performance against The Donald and if I can do better than him then I’ll be pleased with myself. Although, that level of professional standards might be why I’m not a millionaire typing this on a platinum keyboard.

Aside from ramping up the old professional life, I got me a new hobby too. Although I first took to the stage on my todd to try and make people laugh in September 2015, in February of ’16 I jumped back up, this time in the rather tiny stand up comedy scene of Tokyo. It was a rocky start, rushing clumsily through stories about shitting myself at Isle of Wight festival and fixing a child’s soiled draws with a Super Soaker. Basically, shit bits about shit. But arrogance, blind faith, persistence and delusion forced me to steel myself through the bombing and keep writing new stuff until I had a handful of decent jokes and a couple of five minute sets to end the year with.I performed on four continents, I found an unexpected talent in MCing, I met some good friends and started my journey on one of the most acute learning curves one man can experience. In a time where a lot of shit ain’t funny at all, it’s great to be a comedian because everything needs a good piss take and I resolve this year to be more extreme, closer to the bone and most importantly way funnier.

If selfie was word-of-the-year in 2015. This year my nominations are triggered, woke, lit, Brexit and Trump. That last one isn’t really a word but lets hope it’s not still in the running in 2021.

2016 has also been another year as a straight white man for me. In fact, it doesn’t look like any of those things are going to change for 2017 or the foreseeable future. I wish I was gay, because it’s the only realistic way I’m ever going to be part of a minority. Being oppressed has always been a goal of mine, but my hair isn’t even ginger any more so the chances aren’t looking good. One day I’ll get up the balls – excuse the term – to go gay but I’d probably end up one of those rich, non-effeminate ones who adopt kids and vote Conservative. Knowing my luck. I guess I’ll have to keep feeling guilty and being the target of political correct keyboard jockeys because I wasn’t born a black lesbian.

We all like to pretend we don’t follow the world of celebrity relationships, but there wasn’t a jaw left undropped when we heard that Brangelina would be de-portmanteauing their name as well as their marriage. I hope they both find love and that Brad manages to finally rip through the big chalice on George Clooney’s large bong. I heard George has bet him $500 that he can’t do it and he may need the money when those child support cheques start coming out of his current account. In terms of my love life, it’s been tempestuous to say the least. I started out as single as a British boy newly landed in Tokyo could want to be, but via one rollercoaster of emotion after another, I ended it at 23.59pm in Shibuya, freshly back from Australia, in the arms of a beautiful and constantly amazing woman who I’m lucky to be in love with. We’re planning which race to adopt first; currently in hot competition is black (Somalian) or black (Nigerian).

Marriage is a lot like American football. In that, I don’t understand it, don’t see the point and will probably never participate. That was the opening line of my second best man speech, delivered in October 2016 in Chicago for my best friend Christian’s wedding to the lovely Serafina. I also had the joy of attending Dave and Georgia’s wedding in the garden of a stately home in Sussex. Both were rammed with family and friends who I don’t get to see much anymore, and I couldn’t have had a better time. Worth every penny. This age is fantastic because you get to go to so many weddings. Even better, I know that in a couple of years everyone will be having babies and I can go visit their sweet little wrinkled newborns. But  best of all is that, a few more years later, they’ll be getting divorced, and that’s when the party can REALLY get going. Whoop whoop!

Not everything was great about 2016. I was a long way from my wonderful mum, dad and brother, a distance that was closed only when they came to visit me in Japan (which was awesome) and when I saw them in London and Chicago. I mean, it’s a lot better than when I was living with them all, at which point I used to regularly sneak up behind them with a garrotte, so close to extinguishing their well-trodden lives before mum chimed “Cup of tea?!” and hopped up to the kitchen unawares. But still I would have liked to see them more, because they’re alright, and I think I have reevaluated their right to continue living. I also struggled with drink. Paying for it mainly. But I had long periods without boozing which reminded me that I am an even more awesome guy when I’m sober, and while I have put the idea of complete abstinence on the back burner, my life continues to thrive with a more conscious and responsible attitude to what I put in my body. Tragically I hardly played any music for myself, though as a side note, playing silly songs for kids can be soooo fun. START A BAND WITH ME THIS YEAR PLEEEEAASE.

I’ve been working out more; I’d like to get more ripped, but it’s hard work and it makes me stand and look in the mirror all day which I don’t have time for. I even shaved my chest for the first time this year. I don’t know what’s happened to me. My diet improved, for about a week. I did 13 podcasts which people have said aren’t a complete waste of time. I finally bought a leather jacket, and it’s a damn nice one. I started using Apple products so I guess it will be around the end of 2017 when I dramatically declare I’m going back to Android and PC because I’m a year or so behind the ‘Apple is shit’ revolution. I nearly paid off my credit card and I even watched some good movies, which never happens.

Most of all, and this may come as a surprise to you, but this blog has defined my year. It’s slapdash, and inconsistent, and I broke my promise to update it every day. It takes up loads of my time and it gets me tons of flak as well as a fair bit of praise. But since I remember being able to put pen to paper, people have told me I have a flair for writing and for years I didn’t do anything about it. Not one little thing, apart from a few ridiculously OTT press releases for bands. Finally 2016 got me round to writing regularly, and this year I fully intend to write some really great pieces and submit them to some top websites. It can be done! It will be done! In Perth, as it is in Devon! Watch this space; somebody might even pay me to write something one day. I think that would be my dream; professional writer, amateur comedian, musician and DJ, house-husband and father extraordinaire. Start wearing flash suits every day, go grey, buy a ride-on lawnmower and become the legend I’ve always wanted to be.

Right, I’m starting to not make sense any more so it’s time to go. Be good this year. Among all the bullshit I mentioned above, working with kids and meeting a good woman who doesn’t take shit has taught me to be nicer and more positive. To treat people better and think more about others than myself. Join me in keeping up with this because the only way to improve the situation at large is to start in microcosm. WE CAN STOP BREXIT WITH GOOD VIBES, MAAAAAAAN.

Love y’all. Happy new year bitches and bastards.

C-Dogg xx

 

*Smart-arses, I’d just like to flag up irony here, please don’t be triggered. We all know the fault really lies with the guy who changes the tenses on Wikipedia. 

Australia: The End

Well I’ve managed it again. I’ve made the gap between updates even longer. Last time I covered three days and now I’m up to a juicy five. Is it because I’ve been having too good a time to remember my poor neglected blog? Maybe. Is it because we just haven’t done enough interesting stuff to warrant 1500 words? Probably. Is it because all my fingers got broken punching a kangaroo? No, but that’s my favourite of the excuses I’ve thought of so far. If you can think of better, please, I implore you to send us a postcard or SAE.

Last time I updated you was early on Christmas day, just before a very special festive breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, which was so rare and special that we have subsequently repeated it every day since and frankly I will now be happy to see the back of it. Booze-free Bondi beach on Christmas Day was absolutely lovely, full of the kind of polite and fun-loving tourists that any country would welcome on their beaches. Up the road in Coogee, however, the English and Irish reigned supreme; fighting, drinking, drugging and dropping so much litter that the council banned alcohol on Coogee the very next day. All faith was lost in my countrymen – well, I never had faith in the Irish to begin with – until a couple of chaps from Cork cranked up their Bluetooth speaker on the bus to the strains of the Pogues, Wham! and Mariah Carey. An impromptu sing-song erupted there and then, bringing together this ragged bunch of disparate ex-pats, natives and backpackers for fifteen minutes of real Christmas cheer.

I later experienced the first Christmas with a bunch of people I had never met before and were unlikely to see ever again. It was surprisingly enjoyable, and the spread of food was lovely, except I was hit with a wrenching pang of hungry regret the next day when I realised that we didn’t take any of the leftover ham we were entitled to. There was a whole plate piled high with sausages which I couldn’t bear to look at in the moment, but which has haunted my dreams ever since. Whoever is enjoying the sausages I paid for; I sure hope you’re happy. Eat ‘em up and think of me you piece of shit.

Boxing Day is a source of some confusion to Americans and others who don’t observe this particular part of the Christmas schedule, but when they ask what it is, I usually explain it as the day when we celebrate discounts of over 50% off, and of course we compete on who can think of the most interesting way to use turkey leftovers. Wasteful heathens might introduce a new meat but we know of course that, while delicious, this is very frightening for exotic animals such as ibex or ostrich, or the many birds it takes to make a three bird roast. In Australia, we went back to the beach again and I’m pretty sure that was it. Oh yeah and Darling Harbour which was actually butters and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

I’m going to skip a day because I can’t even remember what happened this day so it can’t have been that good.

Wednesday was apparently ‘all about me’, which was nice until I suddenly realised I don’t have many of my own opinions or any desire to do anything, making a day to myself a big waste of 24 hours. Luckily, I did have a reason to get to the end of the day and that was to do a stand up comedy night. I’d heard about it from a guy named Andrew Paskin who came to Tokyo once; apparently it was rolling comedians all night until they got shut down. No MC in between acts, just do your time, introduce the next comic and it keeps going. Total anarchy. It was a sign-up affair, which meant I felt very lonely turning up and everyone knew each other. But I got chatting to some of the other comics and they were friendly; one of them had apparently been sheltered from all British slang and was shocked to hear that we “called lollies sweets?!” When I asked what she called actual lollies, which are on sticks, she appeared quite baffled so I gave up.

I watched the acts, which were many and varied; a New Yorker who had been in Oz for 41 years, a huge stoner who had been out of comedy for eight years after his girlfriend had a tumor, a lady called Sue who was pushing 70, held a teddy and claimed she masturbated with him. All sorts. I waited through about 18 acts until I went on. One particular young chap managed to get no laughs whatsoever, and wouldn’t even leave the stage when the MC pushed the music volume up to drown out his ramblings about Miley Cyrus. He hadn’t even learned the next comic’s name, and as the MC consulted his paper from the sound desk, I said to my mate “It’s me isn’t it. I bet it’s me.”

And of course, it was. So I went up and did a little joke about how some comedians are hard to follow (it works on the premise of a double meaning, I’ll show you it one day) which didn’t go down well. Essentially it relies on everyone being willing to laugh at how bad the guy before me was, which is pretty tasteless. However the set was good on the whole; it’s a big room and there were actually a bunch of punters there. I got a fair few decent laughs and was so happy with myself for learning the name of the comic after me that I walked off stage and forgot to shake his hand as I exited. That bought him a good minute of material about how I was apparently too good for everyone because I live in Tokyo. Well, fuck you Tom Cashman, I still remember your name but don’t remember any of your jokes.

Anyway, I feel like this last few days of the holiday was a blur of meeting old friends and new friends, quite a bit of eating and drinking, a few silly arguments and lots of sweating in the heat. SO, what about the holiday overall?

First up, Australia. What a beautiful place to look at. Really, Sydney had some of the best scenery I’ve ever laid eyes upon and some rather splendid architecture in places too. The man-made stuff is all pretty much brand new of course, thus lacking the old world charm of certain parts of Europe or Asia, but you can’t deny it is a breathtaking backdrop for all their mild racism and obesity problems. It’s hard to be smitten with Australia to any real degree, since I come from England and I’ve done America to death and it’s essentially a mix of the two. Once you’ve lived in Japan it’s hard to be shocked or surprised by anything, however with that said I am seriously considering going out there for a month in my holidays to do stand up, as the scene is good, they at least try to speak English and it’s a hell of a lot less depressing and scary than the UK or the USA.

As for holidays with the ladyfriend, that was the first, and definitely the best so far. For real though, it was a wonderful experience; she planned so much of it and really went out of her way to make it a good trip for both of us, and we had some amazing times and I for one got the chance to experience so much joy. Would definitely holiday again. We had some really, really stupid arguments and I wish we didn’t do that. However, the more arguments we have, the less we feel inclined to split up and the more we feel that it’s just ironing out the creases. Relationships don’t get harder with age, they get easier because you both get more complicated. Yet also, there seems to be so much more on the horizon to work for. It makes sense to try.

Finally big thanks

Anyway, that’s my last post for the year. I’m going to Shibuya now to have a party at the crossing. Got my leather on, gonna do it right and go dry for January. Hope to have a 2016 review of the year article up soon but you know how that goes.

Peace xx

[epilogue: I know this is really late, and I didn’t publish it before, so it’s actually 01.41am on January 2nd and way after New Year’s Eve. I think the reason is that I got bored of writing a vacation blog, and I think it’s quite a cheesy and dry subject. I mean, why would anyone read this? It’s ridiculous. No offence of course, because if you are reading this it means that you took the time out, and that’s great. Seriously, thanks. But like, who cares about my vacation really? I should write about something real and challenging and important. I should have just taken the Christmas holidays off. I haven’t even written my retrospective of 2016 yet. I’m still going to do it but it will be so late that nobody will care. That’s the problem with the internet age, everything is out of date so quickly. Before a lazy guy like me finishes writing, the subject is already old news. Sigh. Maybe I should jus resign myself to being a teacher and find a safe hobby, like playing squash or bike riding or building ships in bottles. Jesus I need to go to bed. Or just watch stuff on YouTube for another hour. Ok, goodnight.]