Finally, a complete guide to strip clubs in the South Tidewater metroplex
Let's say you are given a straight-to-series order for a show that would entertain America while also trying to wake up America to the current state of things in our politics and culture. Describe that show.
I have a pitch deck for this show! It’s called Two Complete Morons, and it’s loosely based on Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar (they’re not the only morons I would parody but they’re an outstanding starting point). The idea is that it would feature two actors, one playing a right-wing moron and one playing a left-wing moron (think Colbert Report-style “always in character” presentation). The format would parody YouTube news shows — it would be two idiots at a desk, basically. The main way it would be different from political comedy shows today is that the jokes would be off of the idiotic takes more than the news itself. The clip/joke/clip/joke format that Jon Stewart and his writing staff pioneered — which I love and ended up writing for many years — is great, but it requires a consistent perspective to really hum. And you’re leaving a lot of humor on the table if you’re only making fun of one side.
Words don’t exist in English to describe how uninterested Hollywood was in this idea. I’m used to my pitches being received like a gift basket full of pubes, but this one took the indifference to a whole new level. I had exactly one meeting about this show, and the executive’s perspective was: “How can you parody both sides when one side is completely right?” So, I would not expect to see this show on TV any time soon.
Do you think that you have more in common ideologically with the Woke Left or a good-faith conservative? By "good-faith" I mean that they come by their beliefs honestly, appreciate dialogue, and are passionate about Founding Values like Free Speech, Due Process, etc.
This is an easy one: I have more in common with a good-faith conservative. Or really a good-faith anything; there are good-faith leftists whose opinions I respect.
The problem, in my opinion, is rigid ideology. Some people decide “this is what I believe” and then reverse-engineer the justifications. These people aren’t rare; I think they’re probably a majority. I find that approach to politics pretty useless; it’s like playing Pictionary and just yelling “boat!” over and over again no matter what your partner draws.
We should also never forget how fucking boring it is to be ideologically pigheaded. I don’t want to talk to blinkered an uncurious people partly because I already know what they’re going to say. If I’m talking to someone who actually is acting in good faith and truly is interested in finding solutions, we might find common ground. Talking to those people is also a good reminder that I should approach politics with clear eyes and an open mind, and not scroll Twitter seeking out opinions I already agree with, even though I’ve been known to do the latter from time to time.
How can America as a nation Make Comedy Funny Again?
I ask myself this question all the time. Most of my answers end up being some version of “people should give me more money,” but that might be slightly self-serving.
Before I answer, let me say that I’m open to the possibility that things were always shit. After all: 90 percent of everything is crap, but we forget the crap. We remember The Kids in the Hall and The Simpsons’ fourth season, but we forget that they were contemporaneous with The Chevy Chase Show and Capitol Critters (I highly recommend watching that Capitol Critter clip). So, when it comes to making comedy funny again, I’m not totally convinced that things today are actually less funny.
Still: How could things be funnier? Well, better ways of finding funny people would be a good start. There are still too many barriers to entry in comedy; the problem used to be piece-of-shit club owners who demanded free labor and/or sexual favors in exchange for stage time, now it’s improv theaters that expect you to blow thousands of dollars on classes before they even give you a look. Wealthy and well-connected 20-somethings are often gifted a large amount of “hang-out capital” that still really matters. A strong New York and LA bias persists even though technology makes it possible to find funny people wherever they may be. Bottom line: There just isn’t enough beating the bushes to find new talent.
The endless effort to engineer perfect race and gender balance hurts, too. The assumption that comedy aptitude exists in perfect proportion with all demographic metrics just isn’t correct. But most executives would rather watch 100 of their projects bite the dust than have Jezebel write one nasty headline about them, so they hire people who aren’t the best people available. I’m not totally sure why investors put up with this, but they do.
It would help if we were less afraid of Twitter mobs. The notes process at a network TV show is pretty nuts; there are entire divisions of people who sit around trying to imagine how something might offend someone. And they don’t just fear the woke; it’s still quite easy to get crosswise with red state America. I don’t know if the US has more fusspots per capita than it used to, or if those fusspots are empowered because of cable news and social media, or if misaligned priorities cause executives to cover their asses when they should just ignore the pearl-clutchers, but I know that fear is bad for comedy.
And last but not least: There seems to be a trend away from jokes right now. I think that’s because Succession, Hacks, and Atlanta are winning all the awards these days. In my opinion, those shows work as dramas (and some more than others), but they’re not really funny. They’re humorous sometimes. I don’t know why entertainment trends occur — I mean, why was there a brief-but-brutal Zoot Suit Riot in the late ‘90s? I have no fucking idea. But at the moment, jokes are passé and amusing situations are all the rage, and I can’t wait for the winds to change again.
Do you still have family in Hampton Roads, Va.? If so, which is the best place to go after Thanksgiving dinner: Headlights; JB’s; or Purple Reign? Asking for a friend.
For those not familiar with the cultural offerings of Hampton Roads: Those are strip clubs. Surprisingly, Google informed me that all three of those clubs now have locations in Chesapeake — my home town has really grown since I left! I think it’s fair to say that Chesapeake now has a Hooters District.
My mom is still down there, so of course she swings by Headlights all the time (best corn dogs in Tidewater!). But she goes to the original Newport News location; she considers the Chesapeake location to be a nouveau riche bastardization of the original.
Why doesn't FEMA have a (non-militarized) army? Shouldn't we have a professional force wearing snappy uniforms administering to the needs of disaster survivors? Sure, they should work with local officials that know the area and the people, but when the locals are incompetent or dead, there oughta be people with expertise that can step in at a moment's notice.
I strongly favor FEMA-specific uniforms for one simple reason: In the aftermath of Katrina, EPA officials kept getting mistaken for FEMA officials. And you folks were not popular! But the federal government — for some reason — has adopted the navy blue windbreaker with big yellow letters as its universal standard for all agencies. This despite the fact that federal agencies are unique snowflakes who must be allowed to live our truth without compromise in order to flourish.
The military gets it. The Air Force has those coveralls that make you look like a badass house painter, and the Navy has that jaunty Pillsbury doughboy-inspired look. The Army has that combat-adjacent camo look for when you want to step on an elevator and make people think “whoa, shit.” As if the military didn’t get enough branding from winning wars, they also get it through jazzy uniforms, and the civil service deserves the same opportunity.
So: What would a FEMA uniform look like? Since FEMA operates in emergencies, road cone orange seems appropriate; it needs to be something that could be seen through a blizzard or a monsoon. It should be action-ready, no loose fabric, but with an air of authority — the King’s Guard outside of Buckingham Palace might serve as inspiration. When I put those parameters together, I come up with this:
Enjoy your new uniforms!
States are laboratories for democracy, in the same way that Wuhan was a laboratory for biology. Should we eliminate them and become the Unified Sitizens of America (still working on the name), or should we all just become our own states? If the latter, can I be both of my own senators, or could I elect you my other senator?
I find the questions of what the states should look like somewhat amusing. You often hear people talk about fusing the Dakotas or splitting California into six states, but I don’t see any of that happening. People are pretty attached to the states they’re living in now, and that seems like basically the end of the discussion.
That being said: The way our states are drawn is insane. Just looking at a map makes this obvious: In the nation’s early days, the ethic was “from that rock to the big tree is Rhode Island.” Eventually, it became “that France-lookin’ thing will be Texas.” A rational re-drawing of our states would involve similarly-sized states (by population) clustered according to geography and cultural ties, but that’s the type of hyper-rational reimagining that only exists in the wet dreams of technocrats and never in the real world.
So, I think we’re pretty much stuck with the states we have. Regarding the question of which Senator you should vote for and whether you should vote for yourself, I’d encourage you to vote for whatever Senator that will result in me being allowed to vote for a Senator. Because I live in DC — the non-state whose characteristics would be no less stupid than any other state’s if we were granted statehood — and I don’t get to vote for anybody.
I’ll ask the same question I’ve asked all the great minds of the blogosphere: why don’t the icemakers built into conventional fridges ever work? Once broken, why can’t they be fixed? Name the demon associated with this horror. Feel free to pretend I didn’t even write anything just like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Scott Alexander and Jordan Peterson all did.
Great question — I’m not totally sure. But maybe we should go back to the old way of getting ice.
Thanks for your questions! Sorry I couldn’t answer them all. We’ll do this again some time.