WORD THUG

BY: J. LALONDE

HOW I DEBATED AMERICA’S MOST CONTROVERSIAL SENATOR

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The reviews are in for The Don’t Say Debate, Debate. Some good. Some bad. Although the bad was from the Nashville Scene who wasn’t even at the debate. Instead they lazily added a question mark to their headline (Very Fox News-ish of them) followed by cherry-picking quotes from other sources, what a sad display of… journalism?

I stand proud of the event and want to offer this bit of behind-the-scenes info.

For two months I arranged this debate. I did so on my own dime and own time. I set it up on one device, the iPhone. Not even the iPhone 5.

That’s right, I got the most controversial State Senator in America, while in session, to debate an out-of-town, unknown comedian in front of his own constituents, in his own district and I arranged it from a park bench on the same device I use for yelping, fantasy football and sexting.

Over those two months, I’d sit in Madison Square Park in between auditions and comedy shows and use the park as my office. I texted, talked and Facebook chatted with the Senator. Occasionally, I found him so high-maintenance I wanted to chuck my phone across the God damn park. I didn’t though, because I had many other people to talk to like the TN Board of Elections, the Senator’s office, my manager, the venue, the booker, the artists, the Mayor and many more.

When the Senator had to re-schedule for the religious holiday he had forgotten (Easter), I re-arranged the event from the same park bench. On an iPhone.

I learned a lot from this debate. Regardless of what the event is, new media offers a grand platform for those to learn, share and if the message is strong enough, inspire.

So here’s a thanks to all those who were involved. To all of those who shared, tweeted, listened and showed up, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

If I can do it from a park bench on an iPhone, 1,000 miles away, imagine what you can do when you’re in his district.

One more thing, I did it while it was snowing too.

(Source: wordthug)

NY TIMES - COURTING/DATING/BED-ORNAMENTING

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Call me an old-fashion romantic, but I don’t mind candle-light, holding hands and getting to know…um…well… I forget her name, but you get the idea.

The New York Times ran a story titled, “The End of Courtship?" It’s an article written for the parents who’ve apparently raised a generation of floozies and heathens known as Millennials.

They’re correct to assume there has been a decline in the effort to court, no thanks to technology and a generation of instantly-gratified nitwits.

However, the article wreaks of ageism and tramples over the history of a horny society. The Times scrunches its nose at the idea of the ‘hook-up,’ something that has been practiced since the invention of the orgasm.

It’s a scary thought, but most of our parents were just as promiscuous (peace & free love, dude). Many birthing my generation before they were 21, which explains my middle-name: J. ‘oops’ LaLonde.

The NY Times is naively flawed in it’s tone, but vaguely hits the sad truth that romance is dying and the simple act of boning has never come so easy.



Sandy Vs. Katrina

I asked Abdul to warm the pita bread on my falafel more than he regularly does. This way my bare hands would stay warm holding my dinner on my walk home a few blocks away in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It’s chilly and that’s uncanny considering it’s hurricane season. Last major hurricane I went through was in New Orleans and the temperature was sweltering.

The feeling of destruction around me is one I’m becoming used to. According to reports this will become the most expensive hurricane in American history, replacing Hurricane Katrina at the top spot. I’m lucky I’ve lived through both of them.

My New Orleans experience is that I along with 12 others and a Golden Retriever were holed-up in a radio studio for four nights & five days. The tattered radio studio sits adjacent to the Super Dome in the Dominion Tower.

We had a birds-eye view of mass chaos below us. This played to our benefit considering we (WWL-AM/FM) were the only source of communication for S.E. Louisiana and out of harms way. Eventually, we were helicopter’d to safety and New Orleans went on to a slow recovery.

With warm falafel in hand, I walked under the M-Train which sped above me on the Myrtle Avenue tracks. The sound of the train speeding towards me felt vaguely similar to New Orleans in that moment. Except it wasn’t a train I remembered – it was a helicopter. Both sounds caused a paradoxical feeling. It was a sound of forceful machinery oddly representing a sense of safety. I looked up at the M-Train and smiled with hope seeing that progress is being made after a few days of having all transportation shut down.

Considering how many people have been affected by Sandy; the recovery process has been impressive. Three days after Sandy in Brooklyn, we are up and running. Three day’s after Katrina in New Orleans we were finally being saved.

The evacuation and recovery in New Orleans was a blunder on the greatest scale imaginable. Seven years later I’m happy to share, America has gotten better.

Credit Photo: UK Telegraph

(Source: jlalondecomedy.com)

Manhattan


Manhattan:

I walk the streets of the city like a 
traveler from the distant stars 
noting every nuance of the human thirst for 
survival, for pleasure, for reverence, 
for glory and for meaning.

Humans seem to be beleaguered by the 
complexity of the inner life, 
the images of self and others and the 
summation of the infinitely diverse interpretations of the 
singular events and circumstances of a lifetime.

There are many nomads in the city, 
many homeless, 
many hanging precariously to life. 

There are many young vital males with 
nothing to do but endure the 
relentless passing of time 
while the vitality roars in their bodies.

These men decay from within from the 
ravages of the restless engine of inertia, 
the parks, the christian missions and 
ultimately the prisons await them.

There are many who walk the city 
inescapably mad tormented by the fire 
burning constantly in their brains. 

There are many who walk the streets with a 
running dialogue being carried on by the
myriad personalities trapped within a 
singular consciousness 
particularly prone to perilous ends, 
completely devoid of the least remnant of 
survival programming, so engrossed are they 
with their own divinations.

Uptown women at the very pinnacle of fashion, 
hailing cabs in a driving rain, 
junkies nodding out over a cup of coffee at bickford’s, 
lunch time employees causing 
ten thousand hot dogs to disappear from a 
nedick’s restaurant in less than an hour,
a drunk pissing on a statue opposite macy’s.

Five young black boys 
demolishing a burnt out tenement with 
consummate speed and skill,
young gay men cruising with an 
almost mocking grace on a 
hot summer afternoon in central park, 
a family speaking french on a bus 
nearing lincoln center, 
old italian men in white playing bocce.

A gaggle of widowed women 
lined up on park benches 
like chickens roosting on an old fallen log 
exchanging stories regarding their dead husbands 
and inconsiderate children, 
or comparing the severity of their operations, 
queues of young professionals outside the 
broadway theaters on a saturday night. 

The ghost like quality of Wall Street on a 
sunday afternoon with the wind blowing the 
refuge through silent thoroughfares,
the sharply delineated gray of winter with 
low clouds enshrouding the great skyscrapers,
thousands upon thousands of workers 
emptying out of their cubicles onto fifth avenue.

These are some of the images that 
envelop my senses and 
catapult me into the 
ever changing fabric of the human kind 
infinitely diverse yet 
somehow monolithic, 
ever moving yet changeless, 
an immense population that 
shares a commonality of their genes, 
the architecture of their brains 
and the form of their bodies. 

Humans are the chimera of a protracted past, 
an instantaneous present and 
an uncertain future. 

The city stands as a 
crystalline mirror to that humanity 
revealing all its convoluted facets, 
its monumental incoherence and 
shimmering vitality.

My own growing up with all its 
particular circumstances is but an 
indelicate mirror of the state and situation of humanity. 

I am, in fact, a living time machine 
carrying with me through the fourth dimension 
the history and possibilities of the race. 

- Joseph Aprile


(Source: jlalondecomedy.com)

BROOKLYN IS BURNING

I was given a stern warning before moving to Brooklyn that the summers are brutally hot. It’s true! It’s so hot a rat stopped me mid-step today just to enjoy the shade my shadow provided before skipping across the melting asphalt. Of course I hated this, because it caused me to scream like a girl for an extra second longer than I usually do when confronted by a rodent. Fucking rats. Eeeeekkkkk.

As a child my summers were spent in Grants Pass, Oregon rafting down the Rogue River. We could also jump off rocks into the Illinois River and rope-swing into the Applegate River. The Applegate was the ‘dirty’ river everyone pee’d in for reasons I still ponder today. Minus the temperature change in the Applegate River, we had many more options to stay cool there than I now have in Brooklyn.

Life is different as a New Yorker. I wouldn’t dare swim in the water around here for the fear of attaining some obscure viral infection. Instead I just embrace the heat and watch humanity change every second of every afternoon.

I saw a waiter get rotten with a customer over accidentally leaving the door open. The customer let the cold air escape the building and for that he was met with a loud and forceful, “C-Word” (That’s Cunt for those who are adult enough to handle language). He kissed his tip good bye.

I got to witness a good ol’ fashion fist fight. This isn’t out of the ordinary in certain parts of Brooklyn, but it was especially entertaining to watch. It was a boxing match between two teenagers who were fighting over who gets to spend more time in the spray of the fire hydrant. Which reminds me, slow down if you’re driving through the spray. Sometimes it’s hard to see the little tykes doing cartwheels through the middle of the street, or more importantly, ME pushing the kids out of the way so I too can do a cartwheel through the spray.

You know it’s hot when you look forward to the dead, stale air that blows across your face when a train arrives at your stop. Sure you get sprayed in the face with subway turd particles, but GOD DAMN it feels nice.

Before getting to my train stop, I have to walk 10 scorching Brooklyn blocks to the J-Train. I get to observe people wearing ugly, dirt-filled faces while dabbing their sweaty foreheads with do-rags. Large mother’s wear short shorts exposing more than should be legal. Homeless, people get more clever with their signs like, “I don’t want a hug, I want a frozen 40 oz.”

Every turn I make, I think of a different scene from Spike Lee’s film, Do The Right Thing. The film came out in 1989, it’s a classic. It covers the tension between the different ethnicities in Bed-Stuy (the neighborhood adjacent to mine). The film also perfectly shows how hot a summer can be in Brooklyn and what the heat can lead to when tensions are high.

In a cramped room the horrid Brooklyn B.O. can be as abrasive as attitudes can get. Even then, I enjoy what Brooklyn has to offer this time of year. Brooklyn is a borough filled with diversity and wild personalities. Find shade, stay cool and please wear some deodorant or you’ll smell worse than the hippies I grew up with back home in Oregon.

DEFINE: NEW YORKER

I moved to New York on December 1st, 2011. I flew here from LA with three suitcases. A subleased condo awaited me in the Upper Eastside. I’d eventually move to Astoria for another sublease and have since settled into a hole-in-the-wall in Bushwick. In just three months, I lived in three different burroughs. Yet, I’m still not a New Yorker. Or so ‘they’ tell me.

To be a New Yorker means very little to those outside of the 8.5 million that reside here. However, the term comes with a sense of pride. It’s good to be a New Yorker. It represents a confidence, a toughness and a way to identify with those who’ve dealt with the ‘greatest’ city in the world.

Moving here and paying the high rent, I thought that’d make me a New Yorker. Though, I’m told it doesn’t. I’ve explored this theory over the past few months and no one has clearly defined how to gain this coveted title. Do I have to be mugged into the gang?

I even have an array of New York moments. I tackled a tiny Asian woman who walked out into traffic on 3rd Ave. She was coming off an 18 hour shift at the hospital and had her headphones in. She was listening to Michael Bolton, which is very Un-New Yorker. I helped her up and we shared a slice. I never got her name.

I even saw Spike Lee in Chelsea carrying his beautiful girlfriend’s bags. Seeing the ultimate New York director grimacing, taught me no matter how famous/rich you get, you’re always at the beckon call of a stunning woman.

I’ve seen a fight on a sidewalk in Chinatown, which was enjoyable. I even drank tequila in Chinatown. That was less enjoyable.

On another inebriated evening I sang a Sam Cooke song on the platform waiting for the G-Train to show up at the Clinton-Washington stop.

Once, I saw a homeless man in a wheelchair rolling through NoLita. He had his penis out and was urinating on the sidewalk. People just walked by disgusted, but never told the cops or freaked out. Sidenote: the man had a surprisingly large penis. God took his legs, but blessed him with a huge dong.

I’ve never once confused Houston with Houston. Although, I admit my pronunciation of Astoria throws people off. I’m originally from Oregon, where we say Ass-toria. Here, it’s A-storya. Sorry, I stand corrected.

I’m not registered to vote here yet. However, I lived in Tennessee for nearly three years and never registered there. I stayed registered in Miami Beach (where I previously lived). My vote counts more in a swing state. Well, when they count the votes correctly.

Someone suggested that I’m a New Yorker when I fall asleep on the train and know which stop to get off at based off the rhythm of the train stops. To me that’s easy. I’m a comedian and make my rounds late at night. I mastered that skill in my first week. I told them this and they retracted, “Yeah, you’re still not a New Yorker.”

I’ve been to Occupy Wall Street, both in the Financial District and in Union Square. I only go to Midtown when a friend is visiting or for business. I’ve been sprayed by a cab on a rainy day and argued over a fare. I’ve laid in Central Park, shoeless. I’ve dated women from every ethnic background.

I’ve even been stuck on a train when someone was decapitated on the tracks and witnessed a veteran New Yorker yell, “Okay, get them off the track I’m late for a meeting!!!!” Talk about ambition.

I’ve been beat up, beat down and have loved every moment of this city. So what is it that makes a person a New Yorker? I think I know.

Over the past few months I’ve had opportunities to go elsewhere for jobs that’d pay more than I currently make. I’d have more space in a home and yard if I wished. I’d be closer to friends and family. I’d even be a voice of a community and adored by thousands of people on the radio. Yet, I didn’t go. The reasons for why I stayed vary, but ultimately it has to do with being infatuated with this city.

I want to live and breath New York’s dirty air. I want to eat New York’s food. I want to enjoy New York’s art. I want to bed New York’s women. And I’m willing to give up money and space to do so.

That’s when you’re a New Yorker. When given the opportunity to enjoy more, you stay to enjoy whats in front of you. Or so I think.

(Source: jlalondecomedy.com)

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