Monday, June 2, 2008

Am I Trapped? Oh Man, You Betcha

"Humor, if we are to be serious about it, arises from the ineluctable fact that we are all born into a losing struggle. Those who risk agony and death to bring children into this fiasco simply can't afford to be too frivolous. (And there just aren't that many episiotomy jokes, even in the male repertoire.) I am certain that this is also partly why, in all cultures, it is females who are the rank-and-file mainstay of religion, which in turn is the official enemy of all humor. One tiny snuffle that turns into a wheeze, one little cut that goes septic, one pathetically small coffin, and the woman's universe is left in ashes and ruin. Try being funny about that, if you like. Oscar Wilde was the only person ever to make a decent joke about the death of an infant, and that infant was fictional, and Wilde was (although twice a father) a queer. And because fear is the mother of superstition, and because they are partly ruled in any case by the moon and the tides, women also fall more heavily for dreams, for supposedly significant dates like birthdays and anniversaries, for romantic love, crystals and stones, lockets and relics, and other things that men know are fit mainly for mockery and limericks. Good grief! Is there anything less funny than hearing a woman relate a dream she's just had? ('And then Quentin was there somehow. And so were you, in a strange sort of way. And it was all so peaceful.' Peaceful?)'"

-- Christopher Hitchens, discussing why men are funnier than women, in Vanity Fair

You have to read this article. It touches on so many subjects I've pondered for so long - why are the first pews, in every church I've ever entered, filled with such crazy women? - and Hitchens writes with such knowing, and laugh-out-loud humor, there's nothing I could do but read it in awe.

I've got a friend, Kevin Carnes, who is this amazing drummer. (One of the handful of musicians, that I know personally, whose playing I consider up to my songwriting level.) He's so good that, when he's sat at his kit and started fooling around, just to get comfortable, I've seen a gallery of lesser drummers break their sticks and declare their artistic careers over. ("I'll never be that good," they always say.) That's exactly how I feel reading Hitchens. He's this unstoppable force. A giant of letters. I mean, people tell me I can write, but - fuck - I'll never be that good. (I know, I know: I'm just getting started. But still.)

I shared a cigarette with Hitchens one night in San Francisco, and he autographed his newest book for me, saying we were "Well met." It was his tiny Bill Clinton expose' (entitled No One Left To Lie To) which I'll, probably, carry with me for the rest of my life.

I had no idea then he was going to be this huge star, of course. I had no idea he was huge, even back then. Or an atheist. Or a conservative. But I did know he was a genius.

And, while I seem destined to wear both of those titles like a weight around my neck (will no record company ever sign me, so I can get my teeth fixed, and make my mark?) it's still a *major kick* to watch those same seemingly-difficult attributes set another fellow traveler free.

Go - read his article - it's a humbling experience:

A humbling experience that feels really good.