Thursday, September 26, 2002

The Haight White North – Canada feeds the Weed

A Canadian parliament committee has called for legalizing marijuana use by adults, increasing pressure on the government to shift drug laws far from the zero-tolerance policy of the neighboring United States.

A report by the Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs released Wednesday recommended that criminal records for possession of marijuana should be erased, much like the memory of those arrested.

Colin Kenny, a member of Canada’s Liberal Party, said the report is not intended to promote marijuana use. "No one on the committee wants to see an increase in the use of cannabis," Kenny said, clearly forgetting about Senator Chong, who wandered in circles for an hour after the vote, muttering, “Your last name is Kenny. I know a dude named Kenny. But it’s his first name. But it’s your last name. Wow, dude. Got any gummy bears?”

The report also called for immediate action on permitting eligible medical patients to legally obtain marijuana, although it did says that Snoop Dogg’s claim of glaucoma should be thoroughly investigated.

Marijuana grown in Canada has become a major import for U.S. buyers. Fans of the Canadian weed say it produces a mellow high, although on the downside, it can leave you with feelings of inferiority, kinda like you’re always in someone else’s shadow, and all you have going for you is beer and hockey.

Qualms Over Baghdad

President Bush met with Congress, trying to convince them of the need for a military invasion of Iraq.

Congressional leaders have shown concern that Bush wouldn’t consult with them on Iraq, especially after White House counsel announced that congressional approval wasn't legally necessary for an invasion – causing Senator Tom Daschle to regret responding to Bush’s previous threats to invade Iraq with, “Oh yeah? You and what army?”

But Bush, reversing his previous stance, has now assured lawmakers that they will be consulted. ``This is a debate the American people must hear, and must understand,'' Bush said after a meeting with congressional leaders. ``And the world must understand, as well, that its credibility is at stake.'' After all, says Bush, if the world doesn’t have to guts to invade Iraq, people might think it wasn’t legitimately elected, or that it just wasn’t too bright.

In Berlin, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Germany is firmly opposed to military action, and rebuffed calls by Britain for European nations to help apply pressure to Iraq. ``Friendship cannot mean that you do what the friend wants even if you have another opinion,'' Schroeder said. “For example, if a friend wants you to kiss a boy, and you have a crush on that boy but aren’t sure you’re ready to take it to a physical level, but the friend pressures you because the boy is secretly letting her play with his Playstation after school – well, what kind of nation would we be then?”

Democrats who control the Senate said a resolution is possible but not certain because of time constraints, and Bush's failure to make his case for war. ``It would not be my assumption that the military course is the only action available to him today,'' Daschle said, noting that Hallmark’s new line of “So You’re Expecting Inspectors?” cards make a lovely ice-breaker.

Administrations officials said that the president is strongly considering a U.N. Security Council resolution that would set a deadline for Iraq to open its weapons sites to inspection. To get the resolution past a threatened veto by China or Russia, the officials said that the resolution would not spell out the threat, but that it would be obvious to Saddam. An early draft of the resolution says that, “it would be a shame if Saddam, you know, had an accident of some kind, or, maybe, fell off a building, you know, head first.”

Back in the New York Groove

Over 300 members of Congress and their families arrived in New York for the first working session of Congress here since the 1700’s, in a show of support for New York on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Under intense security, about 300 lawmakers arrived in New York on Amtrak, coming in on a pair of trains specially designed to skid noisily along the rusty, unkempt rails, so that when they eventually sailed off the tracks into a wheat field, they did so to the tune of “God Bless America.”

Seriously though, the trains were safe. The government said so.

``There are precautions we take all along the route to ensure the safety of the train,'' said Lt. Dan Nichols, spokesman for the U.S. Capitol Police, to which an Amtrak representative responded, “really? Could you fill us in? We don’t have a clue.”

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the special session of Congress in New York ``sends a message to the country and the world.” That message? Washington D.C. doesn’t have Scores.

Vice President Dick Cheney also attended the New York session, and said that the nation must rise to defend the principles laid down by our founding fathers. ''As a nation born in revolution, we know that our freedom came at a very high price. We have no intention now of letting it slip away,'' Cheney said, and then, to illustrate the strength of his resolve, he turned to a random news reporter and ate his brain.

Echoing this message, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott said, ''From this city's one day of horror has come a strength, a resolve, a determination, which from Manhattan to Mississippi, now binds us together for the mighty work that lies ahead,'' thus marking the first time in history the words “Manhattan” and “Mississippi” were ever used in the same sentence, and the first time Lott has ever said “Manhattan” without gagging.

The last time Congress met in New York was in 1789, when George Washington was inaugurated as the nation's first president. Members of our current Congress were excited about commemorating the occasion when they were greeted at the train station by a man with wooden teeth and an ax. Unfortunately, the man was not part of the official welcoming committee, and wound up urinating all over Senator Barbara Boxer.

Back in those days Congress sometimes met in a tavern, where they would work for 18 or 20 hours straight establishing the laws of our land, and then cut loose, like Congressman Jebediah Kennedy, who would get all barleyfaced on mead, and chase bar maidens with his knickers down by his shoe buckles, while his good honorable compatriots would conspire to keep his nightly roustabout in the barn with Betsy Ross from his good lady wife, Wilomina Bouvier Kennedy.
(Hey folks – in wrote this as an exercise – I wanted to write a Daily Show-like news parody sketch. Enjoy.)

Anchor: Our country’s alliances with other nations have never been more important, and those alliances rely heavily on President Bush’s personal relationships with various world leaders. For more on that we go to our Washington correspondent, John Michaels. John, it doesn’t seem like George W. Bush has really developed strong personal relationships with other heads of state.

Reporter: Well, what do you expect? He’s constantly kicking their asses, humiliating them at every turn.

Anchor: I’m afraid I don’t understand.

Reporter: These are the most powerful men in the world. They’re incredibly competitive.

Anchor: In what sense?

Reporter: What have you got? These guys are adrenaline junkies. Rogues, tramps, scalawags, competing on every level just to make the others look like impotent fools in dire need of a manhood transplant.

Anchor: Can you give us an example?

Reporter: Certainly. High-level white house sources tell me that just last week, President Bush trounced Chinese President Jiang Zemin by devouring 47 jalapeno poppers in just under three minutes, and the week before, humiliated French President Jacques Chirac in a drag race that almost saw Chirac drive right off a cliff. You see, when it comes to pushing the envelope, Vin Diesel-style, none of these panty waste heads of state have anything close to George W. Bush’s die-hard fraternity training.

Anchor: We’ve got terrorism concerns, a faltering world economy, trade disputes, are these competitions actually influencing world events?

Reporter: Always have. Think about it. We couldn’t have used Saudi Arabia to launch attacks against Iraq in the Gulf War had George Bush Sr. not trounced Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd in a chugging contest. The Saudi’s still can’t contain their humiliation. Although the favor was returned by the Japanese. Remember when Bush threw up on the Japanese prime minister? It’s called a tequila shoot-off. Bush downed 13 shots and even ate the worm. But the prime minister had just come from Mardi Gras with Margaret Thatcher seeing who could collect the most beads, so by that point, he had a stomach of iron. Bush didn’t stand a chance.

Anchor: Is this sort of competitive diplomacy a recent development?

Reporter: Lord, no. Throughout U.S. history, the superior competitor has always ruled the global agenda. The U.S. only led the war effort in WWII because of FDR’s battles with Churchill over who could fit more people into a phone booth. Not the best event for Churchill – he was a big guy. Although he did get revenge later on in the goldfish swallowing competition. And decades earlier, Ulysses S. Grant helped establish U.S. superiority when he defeated England’s Queen Victoria in the infamous Battle of the Beard Growers in 1871, although we did suffer a crushing defeat in the early 1900’s, when Czar Nicholas kicked Theodore Roosevelt’s ass in marathon Charleston dancing.

Anchor: Considering the current world situation, where does this leave us?

Reporter: It’s very simple. The United States will continue to dominate world affairs until the day when either Tony Blair, Vladimir Putin or Jiang Zemin can hold their breath underwater longer then President Bush’s amazing record of two minutes and 36 seconds.

(Hey folks - This is an article I wrote for a Florida publication that came out on September 11 of this year. I wasn’t originally gonna post it, but I’ve received a lot of good feedback on it, so I figured I would. It presents somewhat of a different perspective on 9/11, and it may be easier to read now that we’re past the hype. This is NOT a comedy article, so if you’re just in the mood for the comedy, skip this and go to the next entry.)

9/11 – one year after – by Larry Getlen

When City Link asked me, the magazine’s resident New Yorker, to write about the one year anniversary of the September 11 attacks from a New Yorker’s perspective, I knew it would be my most emotionally challenging assignment since the piece I wrote about the attacks themselves.

There are countless reasons for this – most of them obvious – but perhaps the most prominent reason is that ultimately, I don’t feel qualified. And I mean that not as a writer, but as a person.

How can I possibly hope to encapsulate and represent the thoughts, feelings, fears, resentments, and even hopes of eight million New Yorkers in response to the most horrific event of our time?

Because as any New Yorker knows, asking one person to represent New York is as ridiculous as assuming that the concept of “a New Yorker” represents a solitary breed. What makes this city magical is that it is not one city, but many. Williamsburg slackers wouldn’t be caught dead on the Upper East Side. The Puerto Rican elements of my neighborhood have no symmetry with the French bistros popping up right across the street from them. And Coney Island remains a rare vision of New York’s past, an area less connected to modern day New York than to black and white movies, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Bowery Boys.

Plus, while everyone in New York suffered on September 11, no matter how unifying the experience was, those who lost people in the towers suffered on a level that those of us who didn’t – including those of us who were here, seemingly inches away, watching the buildings burn and crumble – cannot possibly comprehend. For us, the events of September 11 represent losses on a far more abstract plane - a loss of innocence and invulnerability, a loss of what little faith in the goodness of mankind and freedom from existential fear we might have had left, a loss of the world’s greatest skyline. But those losses are as grand as notions of heaven, and ultimately, as difficult to grasp and define.

What one sees on the outside, at brunch with friends and at holidays with loved ones, on the faces of passing strangers and in snippets of cell phone conversations gleaned while buying the morning coffee, is a city that has gotten on with its life. On any given day this summer, Times Square was a creeping cattlecar of tourists. Subway platforms radiated unbearable heat, and sweat was the great equalizer, drenching rich and poor, lawyer and poet alike. Thousands of people packed every inch of the Bryant Park lawn every Monday night, leaving nary a visible blade of grass as movies like Young Frankenstein and Grapes of Wrath unspooled free of charge to the delight of all, planes soaring virtually unnoticed overhead.

And just as enjoyment and leisure maintain, so too does discourtesy and greed. At Ground Zero, tourists and residents congregate at the viewing stands daily, straining to see the infamous footprint, the ghost and shadow of architectural awe and dashed dreams. Meanwhile, directly across the street, merchants exploit, selling what seems the same book under two different titles - Day of Tragedy and Day of Terror - which feature the same pictures of the towers burning that by now are as familiar as Armstrong’s moon landing, or the announcer at the Hindenberg crying out, “oh, the humanity!” I recently saw one young woman even curl her lips to a smile for a photo of her with the wreckage in the background, as if it were Waikiki Beach, or the Eiffel Tower.

But ultimately, these observations betray insight, for they are not truth, but projection and façade, images of functionality that may be fiction or docudrama, but either way broadcast the illusion of perseverance. Actual strength or failure of will and character in the face of challenge and adversity is internal, and thus, the only one I can truly relate, on behalf of all my fellow New Yorkers, is my own. And when I think of September 11 and what I wish – no, need - to reveal, one emotion stands out – guilt.

Like the rest of the world, I first watched the towers burn on CNN. I soon realized, however, how that was the equivalent of watching a boxing match on TV while sitting ringside, and ran to my roof to watch the horror in visceral 3-D, without the aid of satellites and electricity.

Later on, I deduced that as the towers were prominently viewed from my rooftop, so to must they have been visible from my street, had I ever glanced skyward.

Must have been, I say, because I never noticed.

That’s because the Twin Towers, in the eight months between my returning to New York after an eight-year absence and their tragic collapse, were a peripheral ornament, meshing with the trees and utility poles and the clouds that followed me in my travels. I had made my way through New York life every day for almost a year on that street with the Towers prominent for all who chose to enjoy the view, and yet as hard as I try or wish, I will never remember looking up on my way to the subway, or for groceries, or the gym, and using the Twin Towers as my marker, their sheer voluminousness practically daring you to notice anything else. The towers were one of New York’s greatest pleasures, and while we are all deprived of them now, I’ve been stripped of their memory due to my own obliviousness and complacency, my own absorption in life’s minutia, my own failure to stop, just once, and smell the proverbial roses.

Which is exactly the sort of myopic malaise that supposedly evaporated in the wake of September 11, right? Our uncanny ability to take life for granted and our failure to appreciate the wonders of life and how lucky we are to be alive in the United States of America crumbled with the towers, with the event representing a new awakening, an era of outward concerns. That’s what they said, right? That none of us would ever be the same?

Well, here’s how September 11 ultimately changed me.

In the article I wrote for this magazine the day after the attack, I told of a piece of debris, most probably a page from an instructional manual of some sort, that floated for two miles or so along the airborne wreckage from the World Trade Center to the roof of my apartment building. I wrote of how I preserved the charred page in plastic, and intended to frame it, or place it in an album, or in some other way use it to pay tribute to those who were taken from us.

Well, wanna know what I eventually did with that piece of debris, preserved in plastic with such care and reverence?


It sat atop my desk for months, often in the midst of other papers, tapes, CDs and Post-it Notes. Initially, I always made sure that it remained on top, never covered or buried. Eventually, though, it got mixed in with the rest of my papers, with articles I pulled off the internet or correspondence from clients. When I noticed, guilt set in, so I would place the page back on the top of the pile.

The charred page floated from disheveled spot to disheveled spot around my office, and finally settled in a closet, reclining comfortably on a rarely-used camera bag. It never saw a frame, nor an album - and it couldn’t have possibly happened any other way. You see, I’m a pack rat. The kindest description ever applied to my apartment – in fact, to any apartment I’ve ever lived in - is that it looks like a writer’s apartment. Throughout my life, I’ve always had way more papers, books, CDs, and general crap than an apartment should ever contain, and my organizational systems are always wholly inadequate for the task. So invariably, piles of notes, receipts, and magazines create worlds of their own, rendering every place I’ve ever lived seemingly one file cabinet short, or one storage room too small. That’s how it has been since I was a teen, and now that I’m far beyond those years, I have long since accepted that like it or not, that’s how I’ll always be.

My pledge to put the Trade Center debris in a frame or album was made with good intentions – you know, that thing the road to hell is paved with - but truth be told, I’ve never framed or albumed anything in my life. My high school diploma? Not sure where it is. Probably in a file somewhere. Pictures of my young nieces, whom I love dearly? Loose in a drawer. The original copy of my first article for Esquire Magazine? Sitting in a gym bag, at the moment, except for the rare days when I actually make it to the gym, at which time the article (and many other important documents) get placed on my bed, and then returned to the bag upon my return.

So what ultimately happened with the charred page from the World Trade Center is that much like the tragedy itself, it slowly integrated itself into the fabric of my life.

George Carlin does a great routine where he says that non-biodegradable plastic won’t destroy the environment, as some fear, but that the earth will eventually adapt into a new organism – earth plus plastic. And so it is with my World Trade Center debris, and so it is, I believe - if we’re being truly honest with ourselves when not providing the media with solemn sound bites - with New Yorkers and September 11. We have adapted, and we have integrated.

A New York-based comic named Jonathan Corbett makes the case for why September 11 should NOT become a national holiday. His reasoning is that it will eventually become just like the other American holidays – treated with solemnity for a few years before becoming an excuse for lazy days off work and barbeques, with MTV promoting their “What’s the 9-1-1 weekend” and TGI Friday’s imploring customers to “come on down to Ground Beero!”

The routine is funny because of the truth it speaks in asserting how solemnity often fails to endure even in a case this extreme, and in the process states a truth that few of us want to admit. But what’s unsaid here is that that failure of reverence may not be a bad thing.

For what it really says about our city, and our country, is that we adapt, and in integrating the horrendous, can remove some of its power to dictate terms. And yes, oftentimes we trivialize in the process – we’re certainly not perfect, and who’s to say where balance lies – but still, that may be a better alternative than being ruled and driven by constant fear and enmity.

September 11 has not, as the media would have us believe, changed us all. In fact - excluding those who suffered direct and personal losses in the tragedy - I’d say that as individuals, September 11 didn’t really change any of us. Those who were thoughtless cretins before the tragedy remain so, and those who were kind of heart retained that wonderful quality. We are still, and will always remain, the same people we have always been. Only now, September 11 is, and will forever be, a part of us.


Sunday, September 08, 2002

Larry’s Look at Current Cinema

A brief guide to what’s at the multi-plex.

XXX - a movie about how Vin Diesel signs his name.

fear dot com - the story of everyone who ever bought an internet stock.

How I Killed my Father - the story of a 24-year-old who graduates law school, decides he doesn’t wanna be a lawyer, and embarks on a career in stand-up comedy
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart – Same movie

Adventures of Pluto Nash – The story about a futuristic spaceman who can’t find one funny thing in the entire galaxy.
One Hour Photo - a movie about what every second spent watching The Adventures of Pluto Nash feels like
The Sum of All Fears – same movie
Road to Perdition – what you call the trip to see The Adventures of Pluto Nash
Signs – what you obviously failed to heed if you see The Adventures of Pluto Nash

Full Frontal - the Anna Nicole Smith story
The Good Girl – NOT the Anna Nicole Smith story
Also not the Anna Nicole Smith story - the films Lovely & Amazing, and The Importance of Being Earnest

Amy’s Orgasm – about a relationship I had with a girl named Amy. It’s fiction.

Note – There is no truth to the rumor that My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Monsoon Wedding are the same movie, and will soon be merging to form My Big Fat Greek Monsoon Wedding.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

It was recently suggested by one of my more vociferous critics that, “Larry cannot write his way out of a paper bag.” This angers me, for it is blatantly untrue. I’d like to point out that were I ever trapped in an enormous paper bag, the mere act of writing would wear down the paper. Were I at it long enough, perhaps 12 hours, perhaps 15, all depending, of course, on the size and durability of the bag, the paper would eventually wither away to nothing in at least one area, causing the pen (or whatever writing utensil I happened to be using) to poke through. Given the inherent weakness of paper, I could then rip through the pin-sized hole with said utensil to create a larger opening, eventually excavating a space of such sizable radius that I could then emerge unscathed into the light.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Larry's Look at...Iraq.

After a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said that Iraq was ready to discuss a return of U.N. weapons inspectors, but only in a context of ending sanctions and permitting Iraqi sovereignty.

Annan's office described the meeting as part of an "ongoing dialogue aimed at agreeing on the return of inspectors, which in turn will lead to a comprehensive solution, including the lifting of sanctions,” after which he continued, “which in turn will lead to Saddam Hussein getting a really big head about the whole thing and having a few more posters of himself put up, which in turn will lead to lots of angry Muslims screaming in large groups for no reason, which in turn will lead to the U.S. imposing new sanctions and bombing them all over again."

Aziz said that "we are ready to cooperate with the United Nations,” but observers noted that he clearly had his fingers crossed when he said it, and some observers claim he coughed immediately afterward, and that they clearly heard the word “bullshit” through his hacking wheeze.

Aziz said talks must include not only the return of inspectors, but the end to U.S. attempts at "changing our political system," saying that according to a recently poll, 99.5 percent of Iraqis prefer the current Saddamocracy to any other form of government. The other .5 percent were unable to comment, because they could not find their tongues.

Noting that the last team of U.N. inspectors stayed for 7 years, Aziz said new ones would only be welcome "if they come for a special mission," but not "if they send people who drag their feet for years," or “have B.O.,” or “listen to that Slipknot nonsense,” adding, “what the hell is that crap?” He did say, however, that listening to Christina Aguilera or Britney Spears would be just fine, quietly adding, “Saddam has a little crush.”


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