The older I get, the harder it is to pry me out of the apartment. I don't have aching joints or any evening responsibilities to speak of - except my sworn duty to Battlestar Galactica or The Wire, maybe - I just have things things to do. I have food to make and stuff to write and nooky to commit, which often takes me into the small hours. And everything costs money these days. Is that a function of age or is it simply the case? In other words, are my tastes changing, or is consumer capitalism reaching far back into the youth demographic and plundering their pockets as well? Whichever it may be, I find that my best defense against poverty is to stay indoors and nail my wallet to the wall.
As an aside, Schmutzie and I were wandering through the aisles of the Dollar Stretcher Store today and we found fake plastic bulbs of garlic to hang on your wall, presumably to deter the plastic vampires from showing up and feeding on all our hard-earned aromatic polymers and thermoplastics. Like sucking the grooves from my Nina Simone LP, or gnawing on our countertop. Consider this a sidebar. More actual entry below.
A few weeks ago, I pried the nail from my wallet and went to see Scott Thompson's one-man show Scottastrophe. People have called Scottastrophe a 'multimedia presentation,' but 'monologue with slideshow' is closer to the truth. Bob Wiseman provided musical accompaniment (most memorably when Thompson suddenly bursts out into a brief but show-stopping number called "It's time to laugh about September 11") on accordion and guitar.
I showed up early and it turned out that I was late. Bob Wiseman was already halfway through his set, so I scooted off to the bar at the end of the hall and hid myself in a dark area where the chairs were still piled up on the tables. A few other people, driven by the same urge for anonymity, had nested amongst the chairs and tables and cases of empty bottles, shadows that looked like more furniture until they shifted in their seats. A man sat down a few feet from me and watched Wiseman play. He gave off an air of impatience, which rankled me a bit; his restlessness was impinging on my ability to enjoy Wiseman's music. Then I realized it was Scott Thompson.
When Wiseman's set ended I found my friends. One of them had a midnight radio show and wanted a guest appearance from Thompson. Another had decided that, whatever the night may bring, he was going to get Scott Thompson to sign his ass. I wished him luck, and hoped quietly that I would not have to watch it happen.
The show itself was about as funny as I'd expected and plenty obscene, although the shocks and gasps that I'd heard about didn't really materialize. Maybe my personal disgust bar has been risen. Even the notion of playing September 11th for laughs didn't shock, but he doesn't really play the event for comedy; instead, he uses it to exploit the gruesome ironies of chance and the intersection of huge events and tiny personal tragedies (a kind of funny gay "Man proposes, God disposes" homily dispensed in obscenities). Thompson's monologue starts with the story of his last one-man show, "The Lowest Show on Earth," a Buddy Cole story that culminates in a three-way with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Thompson had the bad luck to schedule the opening of his Middle Eastern gay terror-sex fantasy for September 12, 2001, in New York City. It's funny because it's true.
In truth, I found Thompson's use of his schizophrenic brother (not literal use) to be far closer to exploitation than the September 11th material. Like many family stories of schizophrenia, the brother seems exceptional as a child, somehow blessed with an excess of potential. As the evidence begins to mount, it becomes clear that this potential will never be realized. The sufferer begins to display strange behaviour, sometimes violent, sometimes developing an inappropriate sexual fixation. And then begins the life spent in and out of institutions, cycling from parents' house to apartment to hospital. Thompson's brother kills himself at a relatively young age, an act for which Thompson implies that he is partly responsible. It's always a bit uncomfortable when you realize that real individuals are fodder for someone's art, and to his credit, I think Thompson was well aware of it; the passages involving his family and his childhood were delivered with much less assurance than the rest of the material, and he would often consult his notes during these sections.
The monologue is comedy in form as well as content, in that Thompson resolves the personal and professional issues that have dogged him ever since the dissolution of Kids in the Hall. Professionally, he resolves never to play "another neutered fag on American network television" ever again. On the personal front, he acts out an imagined conversation between himself and his dead brother in the midst of a crisis on a plane bound for Mauritius, in which the spirit of the brother grants him some degree of absolution from his corpse.
Wait a moment - I got carried away with describing the monologue in the midst of trying to describe my evening. I should have left that part alone, I suppose. In fact, I should have been more on the ball generally, because when the lights went up and the lineup for autographs/merchandise/possible sex formed, the friend who had sworn that his ass would bear Scott Thompson's signature had already queued up. I got into line just as he swivelled around and pulled his black jeans and Y-fronts down to his calves. Scott obliged.
When my turn came, I knew I couldn't top the ass signing, so I complimented him on his juba and talked about the Philippines for a minute (he had mentioned going there at some point in his past). Then, in a stroke of ale-fueled inspiration, I had him sign my stomach. Scott was very complimentary about my stomach, for which I thank him. But to be honest, I was fishing for compliments.
When I got home, Schmutzie was fast asleep - at least she was too asleep to appreciate my signed belly - so I hauled my drunken ass into the computer room and took photos.
Guess what, folks? I can't find my photos. I was saving those damned things for a nothing-to-post, nothing-to-lose day. Considering that the photos amount to me lying drunkenly on a hardwood floor, flashing my torso and looking pretty darn bearded, it's probably for the best. The whole thing ended up looking like a rejected American Apparel ad anyway. If I find them lurking somewhere on this laptop, I'll put them up. And then you'll all be sorry.
In the meantime, here's some more fake-ass garlic.