Saturday, November 18, 2006

Guest Blogger: Dobie Maxwell

Dobie Maxwell is one of the most accomplished stand-up comedians working in America today. I highly recommend his stand up act. He was also one of the co-hosts of the "Morning Loop Guys" on WLUP in 2003/2004. He's previously contributed three columns exclusively for this blog. (Dobie 1 & Dobie 2 & Dobie 3)

Today he makes it four...

… And Justice For Al

By Dobie Maxwell

My grandfather’s name was Avrum but everyone called him Al. Everyone except me. I called him Gramps. I was raised by my grandparents and Gramps told me later he vowed to spend the time with me that he didn’t spend with my father. I was his second chance to be a good parent and he taught me lessons whether I wanted to learn them or not. I didn’t want to learn them at the time but now I find myself thinking back on them often. One of his big pet peeves was stupidity. It was Gramps who first told me ‘The masses are asses’.

I thought Gramps made it up but he didn’t. Alexander Hamilton said it. He’s the guy on the ten dollar bill. He also never was president. I know that because I’d watch Gramps bet people $10 they couldn’t tell him the name of the president pictured on a $10 bill. He did it only to people he thought were stupid and needed to be taught a lesson. He delighted in it whenever disaster struck someone or something he thought deserved it. I get it now.

Growing up in the ‘70s I was fascinated with Evel Knievel and his motorcycle jumping stunts. He was billed as a ‘dare-devil’ but Gramps called him a ‘dare-dummy’ and hoped he killed himself every time he would jump his motorcycle over a load of buses. I never understood how he could wish that on anyone. When I asked him why he said "Because he’s an idiot and he’s asking for it. I hope he gets it. Then he‘ll teach everyone else with a brain what NOT to do and life will be better for everyone else. He’s a human example."

Gramps equated it to telling someone not to touch the stove because it was hot and then they do it anyway. I know because it was me who did it. He laughed uproariously when I did it and said "See? I told you. What part of HOT did you not understand?" I get it now.

I couldn’t help but think of Gramps a few weeks ago when I watched on TV how the airplane of New York Yankees pitcher Corey Lidle crashed into a building in Manhattan.. There is nothing funny about a plane crash…when it happens to innocent people. When it happens to a millionaire athlete who wasn’t experienced as a pilot but put everyone else at risk just because he felt like sight seeing and thought he was bullet proof I find a deep dark part of myself becoming Gramps in the way I think and saying "See? I told you. What part of hot did you not get Corey?" He put the entire WORLD on terror alert because he had to get in a crop duster and storm troop through New York City like the Red Baron. He jeopardized everything and lost his life, his career and left a young wife and daughter. That’s not at all humorous but he was either too stupid or too cocky to realize how much he put at risk all for a plane ride. He is a human example and part of me laughed when I heard about it.

I know that’s cruel but at least I’m brave enough to admit it. We all have a humor dark side, it’s just different in all of us how black the darkness gets. How much pain is funny? If someone should trip and fall in front of us is it funny? According to Gramps only if the person is a moron, imbecile, halfwit or dolt. He thought lack of intelligence deserved a bit of punishment to serve as an example to everyone else. As I get older I’m having a harder time arguing his logic. Why should we call a NASCAR crash a ‘tragedy’? They all drive at over 200 miles an hour. On purpose. Every week. Shouldn’t we expect it to happen?

Look at the problems we have with car accidents in the real world. The speed limit on the freeways is different in different places but it’s never over 75. That’s dangerous as it is but now let’s triple that speed and put a bunch of rednecks behind the wheel on top of that and nobody expects there to be a crash? It’s a ‘tragedy’? No, it’s an ‘inevitability’.

The Crocodile Hunter was another prime example. By all accounts he was a gentle and nice man. He was a good father to his kids and a kind soul. I’m sorry when the world has to lose one of those because there are far too few of them but on the other hand here is an idiot who time after time for years would provoke dangerous animals. On television yet. What did he expect was going to happen? Mother nature must have had enough and sent the old stingray to stop the clock. How many times did he tickle the testicles of a tarantula to tempt the fates? I always saw him flicking his finger in the face of a ferret or wiggling his watch at a wildebeest and I knew it was just a matter of time until he was pet food.

I don’t have to watch the news long for a story that would have made Gramps cheer up. Just the other day I saw one about a gang banger who died trying to spray graffiti 90 feet up on a billboard. He slipped and fell to his death halfway through his defacing of public property. Would he have climbed 90 feet without a net or any safety ropes to get a job as a painter? NO. Instead he decided to make a human example of himself. I find that funny.

I don’t want to mislead you about Gramps. He had a heart and so do I. I am also not at all trying to say that I don’t do stupid things once in a while. Maybe someday I’ll be one of those masses Alexander Hamilton was talking about and I’ll make an example of myself too. If I do, you have my permission to laugh at me as well. If I’m as dumb as the people you just read about then I deserve it too. I’ll leave earth with levity and justice for Al.