This morning, I listened to the episode of the WTF podcast with Gallagher. I’d skipped until now it because, really, who gives a fuck about that guy, but I ran out of episodes on my iPhone and figured fuck it.
I’m super late to this game because there was a bit of an internet hub-bub about the episode (145, from about a month ago), since Gallagher walked out mid-interview.
But you really should listen to it. It’s pretty amazing.
I did not know this, but apparently, the watermelon-smashing goofball of the 80s is a bitter, right-wing nutter whose current gigs feel a lot like tea party rallies. This brutal must-read recap of one of his shows shows that there are plenty of “real ‘mericans” out there willing to pay good money for cheap, Reagan-era white supremacisty prop comedy. Lots of jokes about gays, Mexicans, blacks. Lots of coded language.
And the jokes are bad. They’re joke book jokes. Shitty one liners where the punchline is nothing but some degrading reference to a stereotype. It’s the kind of comedy folks practice when they’re 13, trying to make other kids laugh. Mean, lazy jokes, you know the kind.
The reason Gallagher walks out on the podcast is, basically, that Marc Maron calls him out on his bullshit, and the guy simply cannot take it. Which is ironic, since the guy’s entire defense of his shitty mean-spirited “comedy” is that anyone who complains is a baby.
Isn’t it always like that? The biggest assholes always are the loudest crybabies when the tables are turned. (Note to self: learn how to take criticism.)
Dude doesn’t flip out all at once. He’s basically an aggressive, defensive jerk the entire time. It starts early, when he’s convinced that he deserved a shot at hosting the Tonight Show (!?) and wonders why he doesn’t have his own sitcom (!?), and is basically in complete denial about his entire career. “I coulda been a contenda!”
But when pressed about these shitty jokes and his reputation as a bigot, and given a chance to present an apology, he doesn’t even own them. He basically admits they’re “street jokes” that he didn’t even fucking write himself and says the job of a comedian is just to make people laugh. He won’t admit that they’re mean-spirited or hurtful (“they’re just jokes!”), and won’t even go down the path of admitting that, basically, he’s just trying to make a living and this happens to be the audience that has stuck with him.
It’s just sad and upsetting and listening to it is both like watching a car crash and like hearing the cautionary tale written about the car crash as it happens.
But it got me thinking a lot about how folks push through adversity, or don’t. Or get better, or don’t.
Look at Louis C.K., a hilarious behind-the-scenes writer and stand up for years and years and years before he caught his break. And look at what he’s doing now. His show Louie is just amazing, and it is challenging the entirety of what a sitcom is. It is revolutionary and amazing.
Or better yet, look at Weird Al Yankovic, another mustachioed long-haired comedian synonymous with the 80s. Dude was the top of the world for a while there, and then parody songs became lame and he was lame. But he pushed through. White and nerdy a few years back. OK.
And now? He’s on such a resurgence. You hear comedians talking about his shows with such reverence, and when he shows up on CDR radio or whatever, he sounds like an amazingly nice guy. He’s struggling, sure. He jokes about still waiting for an Academy Award for UHF. But all in all, he’s moving forward and you can see him having a second peak. You can see it happening. You can see him becoming cool again before your very eyes. And it’s because he didn’t become a hack. His songs never got mean. He has a personal standard and a sincere approach and he’s pushed himself to meet that standard, even as it must have been easier to just pander to an audience nostalgic for nostalgia itself.
Integrity. It is a thing. That I admire.
Moreover, listening to the Gallagher interview this morning was pretty crazy timing, after being bowled over last night by David Seidler’s speech after his win for best original screenplay. The oldest winner in the category in history, he referred to himself as a “late bloomer,” and I thought, well fuck, maybe when I’m 74, I will make something amazing. It can happen! This guy, his parents died in the Holocaust. He had a nasty stutter when he was a kid. He overcame it and wrote and wrote. In 2005, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Five years later, he won an Oscar.
That is how I want to go out. I want to get better and better and better. I don’t want to look back when I’m in my sixties or seventies and blame other people for what could have been.
Gallagher, though. He’s done. He’s got nothing but a paycheck coming. He lives on the adoration of small-minded bigots and assholes. He blames the world for his own failings and failures. He has no self-awareness and a vision of the world as wrong as it is idiotic. His career is a turd swirling in slow-mo in a toilet that was flushed a long time ago. The best he can hope for is that he’ll clog that fucker up so bad it overflows. I can only hope the front row gets some plastic sheeting.
Interesting side-note: do you remember that video of the father and son team who sent the weather balloon with the HD camera and iPhone up into space? The dad is the cinematographer to all three of these docs.
I return to this op-ed from time to time, when I want to be reminded of both the power of clear thinking and truly wonderful writing. It’s by Simon Schama, a very prolific art historian who is also a bit of a polymath. It was written in 2002 in the lead up to the Iraq War and to call it prescient would be an understatement. It is positively clairvoyant. What makes it so powerful is that it approaches it’s true subject from a tangent, and by the time he gets to the point he’s already won you over.
“Available in 13-, 15-, and 17-inch models, each MacBook contains a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a battery capable of lasting eight to nine hours on a single charge, and a full-sized keyboard orifice filled with rows of buttons made from growing keratin.”—
So my brother called me the other day. He was looking for something romantic to do with his fiancé for Valentine’s Day. I had just the thing. I had been to one of America’s masterpieces a few years ago, and it was only an hour and a half from his home in Charlottesville, VA.
No, I’m not talking about the Natural Bridge.
No, I said to him, what you want to do is find something truly magical, something that makes you think. Something that makes you wonder, what if, during the Civil War, the Yankees decided that the ultimate weapon to use against the South would be dinosaurs?
Because that is exactly the question posed by the wonderful Escape from Dinosaur Kingdom. And the answer is, it doesn’t work out so well for the North:
As you wander through the forest, you are surrounded by operatic music covered with screams, and motion-activated motorized dinosaurs lunge at you from behind picket fences. Besides, where else are you going to see velociraptors hunting a squirrel on a rabbit on a deer on a cow?
I know what you’re thinking: but are there monkeys and/or primates? OF COURSE!
And, good news, the Dinosaur Kingdom is paired with a slightly less awesome but still pretty awesome attraction, the Haunted Monster Museum and Dark Maze. This is another weird creation from the deranged mind of Professor Cline, a mad genius profiled a few years ago by the Washington Post.