Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pay it upward

It was a dark and stormy night, back when I lived in Queens...

I heard a knock on the door in the middle of the night. The knockers were the cops. They were offering me a chance to keep my neighbor out of jail...

Apparently, the woman who lived below me had gotten drunk somewhere and had taken a cab home. When the cab pulled in front of the building, for some reason she refused to pay the cab driver. The cab driver wasn't having it. He called the cops.

When the cops knocked on her door, she again refused to pay the cab fare. Instead, she told the cops that the guy upstairs (ME) would pay it for her.

Important detail: I did not know this woman. AT ALL. Didn't even know her name. I have no idea why she thought I would come to her rescue.

The cops said the fare was $25, and that my neighbor absolutely was not going to pay it. They said that I could pay it for her, or else they were going to haul her to jail. Always fun to be awakened in the middle of the night by a bizarre solicitation for charity...

My theory is that when my neighbor asked them to bill it to “the guy upstairs," she was actually referring to GOD. The cops, being very literal-minded, took it to mean "the guy in 3F."

So thanks to this woman's drunken gropes at the divine, I wound up on the hook for $25. Guy Upstairs, why have you forsaken me..

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Airing Our Differences

Starting with the Clinton administration, you began to hear widespread criticism of conservative talk radio. Conservative talk radio was called "inflammatory," "irresponsible," and "conspiratorial." [Although it is labeled "conservative talk radio," let's call it REPUBLICAN TALK RADIO, AS NEARLY ALL OF IT IS ABOUT PARTY, NOT PHILOSOPHY]

Perhaps not coincidentally, this dovetailed with the media's general talking point about the "divisive" and "polarized" tone of the "national political conversation." You may have noticed that this talking point has been around ever since.

The inference is that something has changed to make Republican rhetoric more rabid. Maybe something has changed. Or maybe it is merely that Bill Clinton was the first Democratic President to hold office once Republican radio had become dominant.

Remember, Republicans held office for 12 years before Clinton, during which time Republican radio became a nationwide force. When Democrats had last held the White House (Carter), Republican radio as we know it today did not exist.

If it had, JUST IMAGINE how inflammatory Republican radio would have been under Carter. Just imagine what they would have accused him of during the hostage crisis. Just imagine what they would have said about his views on energy. Try to picture the surgical deconstruction of Carter’s personal habits (he wore sweaters!). I think it is fair to say the tenor would have been as “extreme” as the Republican radio that is broadcast today.

So really, the "national political conversation" may not have changed that much. It may just be that a change in medium has turned up the volume of that conversation.

Megaditto my tweets: https://twitter.com/#!/greatMikePayne

Sunday, January 8, 2012

War is good for the economy, except that it isn't

You have probably heard the claim that "war is good for the economy." When considering this claim, ask yourself...if war is good for the economy:

Why do investors run from warzones? Why isn't there an ETF called WAR that focuses solely on areas ravaged by combat? Why don't investors line up to place their seed money between the falling bombs? That would certainly give new meaning to the term "angel investor."

It is because war wrecks the economy. Aside from all the property damage (aren't we always hearing that smooth working infrastructure is one of the keys to growth?), war creates the worst kind of uncertainty.

If you've been awake in the last year, you've heard pundits complain that business is being harmed by all the uncertainty being caused by the federal government. The pundits are't wrong; uncertainty is bad for the economy. And nothing causes more uncertainty that war. Ironically, many of those lamenting all the government-created uncertainty are big-time war hawks.

Stability is what attracts investors. This is why emerging markets like Indonesia produce commercials highlighting that they are "politically stable." Countries don't run ads that say, "Bloody. Crumbling. Conflicted. Invest in regrettable Indonesia."

War isn't good for the economy, unless you're talking about the six feet underground economy.

One of the Worst Comedy Bits Ever

Every comedy bit I do now is a diamond-studded rainbow, so I can confidently reveal bits from my past that were cubic zirconia-scarred rainclouds. Here is a truly bitter lemon from my comedic days of yore:

You're always hearing the term crack whore. How come you never hear about a crack celibate? How do we know crackheads don't practice abstinence? Maybe they save themselves for marriage, we don't know! Because think about it, crack is not exactly a love drug like ecstacy. With ecstacy, you're hugging strangers and giving footrubs. With crack, you're talking to walls and stabbing leprechauns.

If you listen closely, you can hear the logic of this bit collapsing in on itself. This is a prime example of a fake bit; one where the comedian twists a self-explanatory term--EVERYONE KNOWS CRACK WHORES ARE CALLED CRACK WHORES BECAUSE THEY SELL THEIR BODIES FOR CRACK. NOT ONE PERSON IN THE HISTORY OF CRACK HAS EVER TAKEN IT TO MEAN ANYTHING ELSE. YET HERE COMES "COMEDIAN" MIKE TO THROW SOME HACKY SAND INTO THE FACE OF AN OTHERWISE CRYSTAL CLEAR EXPRESSION--so they can contrive a bit based on a clumsy misconstruing of said term. This method of contriving material was huge in the 80s, but it never goes out of style.

Comedy crowds lap up fake bits, which is why the crack whore bit was a solid staple for at least three years. I wrote it during a terrible dry spell, and remember feeling like a proud papa when I brought it to the stage for the first time. As you can see, it was a birth more unfortunate than Rosemary's Baby.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Another Phrase to be Retired

Age is just a number.

Well so is your bank account. So is your weight. So is your salary. They are all "just" numbers. And they all matter. A LOT.

And unlike age, numbers such as your bank account, your weight, and your salary can improve. Age goes in just one direction; the wrong direction. When someone tells you: "You don't get these years back," HE IS RIGHT.

The next time someone seriously tries to convince you that, "Age is just a number," respond with this far more accurate saying:

An inch of time on the sundial is worth more than a foot of jade.

My tweets are more valuable than youth: https://twitter.com/#!/greatMikePayne

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I do not trust democracy. I do not trust the wisdom of "the people."

If you disagree, check the comment section for any Internet article about any topic anywhere in the world. It is the biggest bunch of morons you will ever encounter. There is something about anonymity and "having a voice" that brings out the worst in people.

Far from being a meaningful global exchange, what comment sections amount to is a guy from Sweden competing with a guy from Russia to see who can say "douchebag" the most times.

It is a good thing they didn’t have comment sections during the Renaissance. The Mona Lisa would have been taken out of circulation because Da Vinci would have spent all day reading comments like: “The reason Mona Lisa’s not smiling is because this painting sucks. DISLIKE!”

Monday, January 2, 2012

Your Friendly Madison Avenue Bank

Occupy Wall Street has really spooked the banks. Have you noticed the way banking commercials have changed? They've gone from being advertisements for banks to desperate pleas for love.

Old bank commercial: "Bank of America: We have the longest hours. We have the most locations."

New bank commercial: "Bank of America: We didn't kill Jesus!"

I trust a banker even less when he is covered in butterflies.

Of course,spending money on cloying commercials is probably cheaper than lending to startups in a sterile economy.