May 09

First in a Series: Conversations Between Brick Tamland and Alan Garner


Brick: I’m Brick Tamland. People seem to like me because I am polite and I am rarely late. I like to eat ice cream and I really enjoy a nice pair of slacks. Years later, a doctor will tell me that I have an I.Q. of 48 and am what some people call “mentally retarded.”

Alan: Okay, well, maybe we should tell that to Rain Man, because he practically bankrupted a casino, and he was a retard.

Brick: Fantastic.



Apr 24

Confusing Gay Double-Standard in L.A. Sports …

A little over a week ago, we were treated to a go-round of moralizing from sports columnists and sports talk radio hosts (something I always find amusing on its face) regarding the gay slur mouthed by Laker Kobe Bryant at an NBA official. (Disclosure: while a lifelong Laker fan, I am not a fan of Kobe Bryant, the person, which has lessened my passion for the Lakers in recent years) Certainly, while Bryant’s use of the word was unacceptable, it’s absolutely hilarious for anyone who has played or been around competitive basketball at just about any level (from high school to the NBA; from local rec league to pick-up games at 24-Hour Fitness) to act “aghast” that Bryant would say such a thing.

That word, among others, has been a staple of trash talk and angry outbursts for years — unfortunately. I am not defending Bryant for saying it — it is a word that people clearly need to remove from their vocabularies — but to act as if it was absolutely unheard of is asinine. Hence, Bryant’s inital response to requests for an apology. His initial “non-apology” was — more than the tone-deaf denial it was portrayed as by many sports journalists and commentators — merely part and parcel of the environment he’s been part of for decades. This is the same environment fomented by the screaming sports talk host or “all or nothing” sports columnist that makes the game bigger than it is.

Just this past weekend, though, I came across a more cloaked — and therefore, perhaps more disturbing — shot at homosexuals. During a Red Sox-Angels game at Anaheim, a between-innings break brought the wholly predictable appearance of the “Kiss Cam.” If you’ve been to any pro or major college sporting event in the past 10 years, you’ve seen it. The stadium video board jumps from one camera shot to another of a couple and the crowd roars until (or after) the pair kisses on camera. While it’s become part of the sports entertainment landscape, it can be funny at times when the camera focuses on a first date, or sweet when it comes up on an elderly couple. However, apparently the folks running the kiss cam in Los Angeles of Anaheim (or whatever city the Angels represent, since there’s no mention of any city anywhere in that stadium in reference to the Angels — just an omnipresent hal0ed “A”), also find humor in the idea of two men kissing. Not only that, based on the reaction of what sounded like a majority of the crowd, so too — unapologetically — do the fans. The Kiss Cam, you see, wrapped with a shot of two Boston relief pitchers sitting next to each other in the bullpen, to the hoots and hollers of more than 30,000 people.

While I personally am not offended by what, truly, is juvenile humor that would likely draw a laugh from a nervous 12-year-old, and usually I wouldn’t think twice about it, this time it struck me — mainly thanks to the recent media coverage of the Kobe situation.  How many of those 30,000 people verbalized concern about or disapproval of Bryant’s comments? How many didn’t? Where did the hypocrisy start and finish? And where, pray tell, is the media this time around? Is it not convenient to their storyline of a “greater family atmosphere” in Anaheim than at the recently ridiculed Dodger Stadium? Can you imagine the outcry from the media if they could tack “homophobic” onto that hype? Is homophobia part of a “family environment”? How would a gay Angel fan feel about it?

So, Kobe Bryant mouthing a gay slur: worthy of harsh condemnation. The Angel organization and the operators of Angel Stadium of Anaheim making a lame, but clearly homophobic, joke at least twice in three days in clear view of 30,000-plus people: oh, it’s just a joke. Hmmm.

It’s not the PC thing that gets me — either way, whether overly PC or not PC at all. It’s the sad double standard and lazy hypocrisy.

Apr 19

Charlie Manson Returns With New Nuggets After 20 Years of Silence

So, word comes today that L.A.’s most famous megalomaniacal, mind-controlling, mass-murdering white supremacist, Charles Manson, has broken a 20-year silence to speak with the Spanish edition of Vanity Fair on the 40th anniversary of his conviction in the Tate-La Bianca murders that rocked Southern California back in August 1969. And, as usual, once you get used to his ramblings (and past the concept that he likely brainstormed or took part in the murders of at least nine people), the comedy gold (and simplistic pop psychology) flies. Samples, you ask? Here you go:

  • “You have to accept yourself as God. You have to realize you’re just the Devil just as much as you’re God, that you’re everything and you’re nothing at all.”
  • “I’m a mal hombre.”
  • “Believe me, if I started murdering people … there’d be none of you left!”
  • “We’re not in Wonderland anymore Alice.”
  • And my personal favorite: “You know, a long time ago being crazy meant something. Nowadays everybody’s crazy.”

Of course, when someone talks ramblingly in circles and is wont to “trailing off” as one story I read about his interview put it (If you’ve never seen or read an interview with Manson, these are extremely regular occurrences), they’re liable to flukily wander from their general state of nonsense into random bouts of cogency.

As a matter of fact, according to this account in the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, Manson briefly swerves into more “reasoned” territory on the environment than many GOPers often deal in. This, amusingly, has led the right’s “thought leaders” (ahem) to ask why “people who hate America believe in global warming” — thanks Rush — and stumble over each other to make the “best” Al Gore-Charles Manson joke. Of course, they overlook his predictably race-tinged ramblings about the president (that, again, circle back into dangerously coherent territory when talking about the sway of Wall Street over our current government). That a part of the country’s right wing has gone so far off base that they try to smear environmental science by surmising — and then shouting, “Nutty Charlie Manson believes in it, so it must be false!” … well, they’re even further gone than I could have possibly imagined.

So, welcome back, Charlie. Always worth a good laugh to read what’s going on in that swastika-carved dome of yours. And, as you said so many years ago, it’s best that we all remember: “You can’t kill me. I’m already dead.” Indeed, mal hombre … indeed.