Friday, September 29, 2006

A Balanced View

Henry Rollins is many things: rock singer, spoken word artist, writer, actor, host of "The Henry Rollins Show" on IFC. He's known for his cutting wit and brutal honesty. If you're not familiar with his work, I encourage you to seek it out at

Rollins has a blog of his own called "Dispatches". While checking it out recently, I came across a post titled "Letters From A Soldier". This is a series of messages from an American GI currently serving in Iraq. In the letters, the soldier (name withheld for obvious reasons) provides a no-punches-pulled look into his daily world. I'll say in advance that there is some profanity and some very graphic description used in the post, so sensitive parties, use your best judgment.

Rollins himself is an outspoken liberal and a vocal critic of the war. At the same time, he has, via the USO, made several visits to Iraq and Afghanistan to entertain the troops there. So I would say that no one could accuse the man of working a partisan agenda. He's just trying to get the word out.

You know I hate being preached at and I try to avoid preaching as much as possible. As far as the war goes, I respect both sides, for and against, and believe that they both have many valid points. I do have a problem, though, with the mainstream American media which covers the war. If anyone seems to be working an agenda, it's them. They're either blatant, dyed-in-the-wool conservatives (Fox News, for example) or shameless, hardcore liberals (GQ Magazine, for example). Objective reporting seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur. Since most of the information we get seems to be filtered, I've often wondered what vital data is being screened out.

That's why I've included a link to "Letters From a Soldier" below. It's a balanced view of the hottest issue of our time, straight from one who's living it. Whether you're a hawk or a dove, I think you'll agree that this is news that deserves a wide audience.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Patoot Day: Join the Fun!

Yes, the picture above is exactly what you think it is. And yes, the special day mentioned in this post’s title specifically refers back to the picture. To understand why, keep reading.

Since hiring on at the Spendorama Department Store, my work days have been filled with a virtual conga-line of shrews, shmucks and schlemiels of various ilks. And I’m NOT referring to the customers. This time.

I’m referring to the merry band of chuckleheads known as my “coworkers”. While some of my fellow retailers are hardworking, friendly and cooperative, most are anything but. I’m talking about the Customer Service Desk people, who bitch every time I go to them for cash register change. I’m referring to the maintenance man, who maintains that trash can-emptying is not part of his job, but flirting with the girls in Cosmetics is. I’m talking about the day shift workers, who leave piles of returned clothes for us night shifters to reshelf, then complain when they have to replace one roll of receipt tape in one cash register. Day after day, week after week.

What to do, what to do? If I were a normal adult, I would simply discuss these matters with my department manager, or perhaps, with the store’s Human Resources office. But as both of you who read this blog regularly know, Brother John is anything but normal.

Situations such as these start the wheels of my devious little mind a-turnin’. Totally unrelated concepts, like microscopic animals mating in junior high science class films, collide and spawn new breeds of horrific wonder [INSERT WICKED VINCENT PRICE LAUGH HERE ]!

CONCEPT #1: The National Examiner, a distinguished tabloid sold at supermarkets across America, has long featured an advice column called “Dear Tony”. The author of the column is a bald, starry-eyed and doughy-looking guy named Tony Leggett. Tony is a psychic by trade. Which, more so than a psychologist, clergyperson or former celebrity spouse, makes him the go-to guy to pen an advice column.

About once a year, ol’ Tony offers his readers the Magic Blue Dot, a supposed talisman of health, happiness and prosperity. Leggett directs his readers to clip out a blob of blue ink—infused with Tony’s ‘psychic energy’—printed above his column and keep it until a specified day and time. When this date arrives, readers are to fondle the Blue Dot while thinking of a “problem” area in their lives—money, job, romance, whatever. Simultaneously, Tony unleashes a wave of psychic good vibes which reportedly travels to Blue Dot holders everywhere.

In other words, the Blue Dots are satellite radios and Tony Leggett is a psychic Howard Stern. The following issue of the National Examiner is usually chockfull of Blue Dot success stories—“Agnes Krump of Keokuk, Iowa used the Blue Dot to cure her lumbago!” Or “Cleetus and Emmy Slopjarr of Jackson, Mississippi tried for years to have children and now, thanks to the Blue Dot, they’re pregnant with quadruplets!”

CONCEPT #2: At the 1993 Academy Awards ceremony, sometime actor and full-time megalomaniac Richard Gere sauntered up to the podium to present a golden statuette to someone for some movie something that nobody gives a damn about now. But before doling out Hollywood’s booby prize, the then-Mr. Cindy Crawford made a special request of the worldwide television audience. Gere, a practicing Buddhist, asked the audience to send Chinese ruler Deng Xiaoping a mass psychic message of “love and truth and sanity” in hopes of persuading Xiaoping to end China’s persecution of the Buddhist people of Tibet. And then, Gere handed out the Oscar for Best Makeup Effects to “Batman Returns”. Probably.

So, Kindred Souls, are you as fed up with asshole “coworkers” as I am? Do you believe that there’s the slightest grain of truth in anything a supermarket tabloid says? Do you believe I’m as nutty as Richard Gere? If you said yes to at least two of these questions, then here’s the deal. . .

I’ve designated this coming Saturday as Patoot Day. As in “horse’s patoot”. Why not “horse’s ass”? Just because it’s more fun to say “patoot” than “ass”. So there.

If you wanna take part in the festivity, simply print out this posting. Yes, all of it. Otherwise, you’ll forget the details and phawk up the whole shebang. Just do it, okay?

All right, once you’ve made a hard copy of the “patoot” picture above, clip it out—follow the lines, please, kids—with scissors. Then stash the patoot picture in a safe place. Like your wallet, your purse or your Power Rangers lunchbox. Hold on to it until Saturday.

On Saturday, September 16th, 2006, at 12:00p.m., please do the following:

● Remove the patoot picture from your safe place.

● Hold the patoot picture, face-up, in the palm of one hand. Then clasp your hands together firmly. You know, like Uncle Festus used to do when he’d make that farting sound with his hands.

● Close your eyes and think of the biggest horse’s patoot in your life at the current time. Then, holding that image in your mind, say “Patoot!” five times. But only five times. That picture has been supercharged with patented “John Left’s Patoot™” energy. Saying it more than five times could result in your becoming one. A patoot, that is.

At that exact time, I’ll be doing the same. Together, maybe we can send a giant, rolling wave of love and truth and sanity to all the horse’s patoots in the world, possibly transforming them into actual human beings in the process.

Each Patoot Day participant is welcome to return here, in forthcoming days, to record the effects the festivity had on the patoot in his or her life.

Maybe it’s a pile of crap. But it’s worth a try, right? If you can’t believe a batshit movie star or a supermarket tabloid psychic, who can you believe?