By Joe Bodolai (c) 2011 All rights reserved, especially from you America
“When voting makes no difference and oligarchs in service of a foreign power or greedy private interests continue to defraud and rob the country, I can no longer be part of it,” said Joe Bodolai, author of this sentence you are currently reading, in really serious-sounding wording. His brief but incredibly powerful chick magnet-like address on the steps of the Santa Monica Public Library was done without teleprompters and not with notes written on his hand.” I seek not conflict, but to end it and I hereby declare my sovereign territory extending to the fullest and exaggerationist outer boundaries of my body in whatever location I happen to be in, even if part of me is in someone else.”
He immediately copyrighted himself and his life and maintained “The United States will be in violation of that copyright should they use my name or images without the express written consent of Major League Baseball or myself on any document, such as tax or census forms or envelopes or even email spam I can assure you they will be met with the full fury of a team of C-average or better law students I have hired as interns from craigslist who will go all RIAA on their ass.”
“I have attempted conciliation with the US, but they have rejected talks.” Bodolai blamed the lack of response, returned phone calls, or other reaction to his numerous emails to friends or prospective American employers as “obvious attempts by the universe to isolate me from the family of nations or any other family,” but denied that his secession was involuntary. “I may be involuntarily retired, along with other former Americans, but, like them, I will not passively accept their government’s attempts to force us into abject poverty or subjugation. And, as a resolute Ohio State fan, I say, “On Wisconsin!”, Bodolai added, “and should they choose to join me as independent and sovereign, I will immediately dispatch myself as Ambassador to Ian’s Pizza in Madison, who provided much needed delicious world-famous mac & cheese pizza for the protesters there.”
Shortly after, the entire nation of Joe Bodolai turned out for the country’s first Presidential election with Joe Bodolai winning 100% of the vote. He was inaugurated in a brief ceremony at a local Starbucks where he pledged to end his country’s 100% unemployment rate.
Are Pop Culture Jokes Wrapped in News Really Political Satire?
By Joe Bodolai © 2011, All rights reserved
Recent events about the murder of Osama Bin Laden, or whatever that story was, led to a flurry of what was called “political satire”. Much of it was really just a simple formula: take a serious political event and merge it with a pop culture reference. This is often very funny, it’s still really pop culture joke wrapped in news. There were also numerous parodies, impressions of political figures again making pop culture references. I won’t quote these, you know where to find them. Satire, I feel, has a different quality. At its best it is a moral statement, one that I define as “making evil uncool”. Often that kind of joke does use pop culture references, but the purpose is to reveal and not revel in the subject. In Canada, we have had satire in prime time for decades, even on radio. The Royal Canadian Air Farce, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Talking to Americans, and the legendary This Hour Has Seven Days were all way ahead of The Daily Show. Even Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels and much of the cast and writing teams are Canadians.One of my real heroes in this type of comedy is, of course, the late George Carlin. I had the surprising honour of accepting an award on his behalf at a celebration of the First Amendment. Here’s a clip of my acceptance speech from that event.
When I saw the pictures from Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, I was not alone in being reminded of this:
So how does satire or being funny address real wrongs and what can we do about it? I found this lesson from a group of students in Serbia who played a major part in overthrowing Milosevic just by being funny in an active way. Theirs was a satire of action, not of the smug and distant. Rather than have me attempt to summarize it, I’d rather dedicate my space here today to them, and to remind us all that making evil a bit more uncool is more than just a joke:
What Egypt Learned from the Students Who Overthrew Milosevic by Tina Rosenberg — and what we need to know.
And if you haven’t noticed, you can read my Twitter posts at the right and see if my mood has changed to allow me to make some of the kind of jokes I often include here. If you want to read them all, go my Twitter feed.
UPDATE: I did manage to do a bit of heavy-handed animated political satire for, I hope, your enjoyment:
It’s Over” — Nostradamus
By Joe Bodolai (c) 2011, All rights reserved
A week or so ago, I happened by the Barnes and Noble store at the Grove in Los Angeles, a faux urban streetscape of a mall, to find a huge queue to attend the bookstore’s “
moving your lips while reading series.” The author that evening was none other than the Jane Austen of The Hot Tub herself, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi. The crowd was there to hear her first-person author’s insights about her hairball of keystrokage by a poor ghost-typist “novel”, A Shore Thing. Perhaps this roman a clef could provide loyal viewers of her smoosh-and-puke reality series, Jersey Shore, some valuable insights gossip about the weltanschaung hookups of her Algonquin Round Table STD-Infested Hot Tub companions, Pauly D, J bowWoww, and Mike not “The Situation” Room, the Mr.Darcy of the Abmaster. I have no idea what discourse transpired, but happily there was a Bath & BodyWorks nearby for emergency spray tan needs and, in my case, shower gel.
In related news, Cheney Administration spokesman George W. Bush commented on Snooki’s novel adding “I’ll be about ready to barrel on into that as soon as I finish up My Pet Goat.”
There is really nothing I need to say about the state of American mass culture today. This picture says more than I ever could. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just go to the library. You know that place, the Book Museum? It’s where the homeless go to take a dump and poor people still go to rent VHS copies of Die Hard III. At least there I can get WiFi at the attractive price of relative quiet and an effluviance of urban odors.
THIS JUST IN: Snooki to Host White House Correspondents’ Dinner!
“freedom is what it’s all about!!!” So…what about Israel? ?
By Joe Bodolai (c) 2011, All rights reserved.
One thing about American life today is that when world events unfold faster than Gap customers at a sale, our celebrities will be there to keep it all in perspective with their analysis especially on Twitter. When regime change in Egypt was happening the big names swung into action, and I immediately joined the conversation:
Immediately after I replied to her, Lindsay realized she might seem a tad shallow and posted this:
Lindsay Lohan: Congratulations to the people of Egypt. Your voices were heard and you proved that peaceful demonstrations are possible and effective …. x… And I pray Egypt maintains it’s treaty with Israel and sets the trend for its neighbors to create peace with Israel and the entire region.
I guess she decided that I was somehow referring to her hope that Egypt would “maintain it’s (sic) treaty with Israel” and “set a trend.” The world needs new “trends”. I guess she has something in common with Israel: theft! (necklaces, Gaza, West Bank… that kind of stuff. Oh, and one of them has nuclear weapons, also stolen. Think Congress minds?) If this seems like a non-sequitur to you, I can’t think of Egypt today without thinking of Israel. And our “experts” (the not-hot people on news channels) applaud the Egyptian military for taking Lindsay’s advice. They will “honor” the treaty. Plus ca change….
Noticing this intellectual forum was being noticed by the masses of even MTV viewers, a pair of big guns came out, Kim Kardashian:
Kim Kardashian: What a historic day for Egypt! The people of Egypt made the regime step down!!! Now they can enjoy the freedom they deserve!
Party time in Egypt!!! It’s a three exclamation mark political thingy!!!I am so pro-freedom!!!!
All this week, we will be treated to late night talk shows as one after another of our great political analyst/partay realityshow people will announce “I just wanna say this about what went down over there in Egypt…” Audiences will hush for the momentous decree… “freedom is what it’s all about.” Cue applause, grave appreciative expression from host, or maybe throw to commercial with a solemn “we’ll be right back,” as if the celebrity’s dictum just spiked the ball in the end zone of injustice. Celebrities who are famous for no discernible talent or moral notoriety seem to have replaced traditional spiritual leaders such as churches and religion for those who find the traditional conduits to higher wisdom irrelevant, out of touch, or plain ass-whacked. In the aftermath of the Japan earthquake, I saw this invocation of St. Kim of Kardashian in this young woman’s tweet to her:
Of course, some celebrities had far more urgent concerns and immediately provided relief, such as 50-Cent who reminded us he would assist with a massive airlift:
This kind of says how I feel right now:
Oh, and don’t forget that I have a new email address. It’s one that I think really expresses my uniqueness, artistic vision, and my concern for others:
It’s real. Go ahead and email me. I’ll email you back. Promise.
Can You Jump High Enough to Escape the Jar of Your Confinement
By Joe Bodolai © 2011, All rights reserved
I heard a “poem” read by a Chicagoan named Roger Bonair-Agard in which he shared some research he had done about how fleas were used in popular entertainment, usually at traveling fairs about a century ago. He mainly used this research to support his remarks about certain amusements of white people and a political analysis stemming from that metaphor. Fleas, according to the poet, can pull over 100 times their body weight with their disproportionately strong legs. But the most amazing fact I learned from his work is that fleas, upon being confined in a jar for three days, will never again in their lives attempt to jump higher than the lid of the jar of their glass prison. He added, “neither will their offspring.”
This confinement and likely frustration, pain, or hard-earned knowledge, trained them to never be able to escape and, perhaps more interestingly, not willing or able to try. It made the amusements of their captor able to be confined to an easily contained area. More importantly, this “training” seems to have created a hereditary lack of ambition, or at least learned behavior handed down.
It also sparked me into thought about American education. Since my descent into closer-than-I’d like proximity with the material and psychological ghetto of the American underclass, I have spent time volunteering as a GED tutor. Some of my students are felons on parole, current and former drug addicts and dealers, gang bangers, and a few just plain nice people. I lose students from time to time due to return to old ways or, in one particularly horrible case, being shot nine times. From this experience, I have learned just how truly astounding some of what people in these circumstances have not learned or, worse, what they have made up or guessed along the way. From my first-hand experience, this includes:
- World War I is also known as the Vietnam War, in which “we kicked ass.”
- Europe is a big place on the map and is located under… well, Europe. We usually call this “Africa”.
- Hitler was a Muslim. (Mission accomplished, JDL.)
- And, from practical retail experience, an ounce is also 28 grams.
Now I could think of this simply as a lack of education and I would be correct. Why and how is such a widespread lack of education in America possible? And what are its effects on society and the future? These are serious issues that I am probably “not qualified” to answer, so I will. I don’t need “qualifications” bestowed upon me from such advocates of the privatization and monetization of public education. Children are not a “human resource” or “human capital”. Yet, it seems that American education is creating a lumpenproletariat of indentured ignorant servitude. These new workers are ignorant of not only basic reading, writing, and math, but more importantly, of curiosity, skepticism, and ambition. Those are three values that once did allow an American dream to exist.
One need only to go into any fast food “store” today to see that cash registers have had their number keys replaced with words or even pictures of the menu items. Instead of needing to count out change when one is presented with a five-dollar bill for an order of $4.37, an automatic change chute slides the coins out.
My experience as a well-educated professional seeking some sort of meaningful employment is informative and eye-opening at least to me.
While the average uneducated unemployed young man or woman could easily score in the 99th percentile of those being able to
correctly name all the Kardashians, this has not been traditionally the kind of marketable job skill that once did make American industry, service, and innovation the best in the world. Regrettably, what was once mere trivia is now a kind of knowledge which all too well serves the new breed of what used to be called “journalist” whose “career” working as a Jagermeister promo rep precisely requires advanced degrees in Kardashianality. In other words, American capitalism is reaching an apotheosis whereby American work is only valuable as marketing and actual creation of goods is left to the other Third World. Oh, and for those idealists who aspire to a “writing” job, there are many available on craigslist, offering the illusion of being able to be close enough to get a whiff of a celebrity fragrance. If one does not appreciate the nuances of the job descriptions, “writer” is a volunteer activity in the service of anyone who successfully fishes them in. The writer is clearly one rung below “intern”. Writers will be rewarded with their “own byline” (!) and “exposure”.
Where are the young people who actually question the assumptions that guide the forces that control their lives? If you are one of them, let me know. I have a lot more to say about this and I feel that I should be funny at least in part of this. I can’t, however, when I see what is around me, the eager sheep following the Judas goat of media to the lamb kebab factory.
The fleas are in the jar. The trainers have them right where they want them. Here’s some amusing colored toxic balls to juggle. Enjoy the show!
 The audio of this may be found at the excellent site of Chicago Public Media, home of such outstanding radio as This American Life and Dynamic Range, where I heard the podcast. I’d be more specific but I’m busy typing this. You’ve got the internet, look it up.
 He also explained that the fleas’ so-called trained antics, such as playing tiny drums or with balls (soaked in camphor) were really their desperate attempts to survive such chemicals or fatal temperatures, resulting in amusing writhing. This makes wonderful cocktail party conversation (especially for us white people) so check him out somewhere on that site. Later.
Time Out From My Writing to Introduce You to the Voice of Arab Resistance in Egypt
By Joe Bodolai (c) 2011, All rights reserved.
A new song from Egyptian rappers Arabian Knightz is sweeping the Arab world as protesters and supporters have taken up the group’s release of “Rebel”. Spread the word through the song and its Arabic lyrics:
They killed us, slaughtered us, put us behind bars/ Tortured us, robbed us, scarred us, terrorized us and ignored us/ But the Egyptian people won’t die.They will conquer/ My country is your country/ My money, your money/ And enslaving us must end.
Hear the song at
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