Friday, December 4, 2009

I am a curmudgeon

Due to some recent feedback I've received about what I sometimes say, and how I say it, and where and when I do...I guess I gotta explain this for some people.

I kinda enjoy being a curmudgeon sometimes. Most of my (professional) life I've griped, bitched, moaned, and whined for fun. When possible, turning the "joke" on the safest target: me. I try not to be one when in an environment that it would be, or is, inappropriate. But, sometimes my timing has been off...

I've tried to make it obvious that the curmudgeon-like characteristics of my persona and character is along the lines of Archie Bunker and Fred Sanford...if you take a deep look at them, they're not just rude or obnoxious for the sake of behaving that way: they are who they are because of what/where they have come from, and known...and what they currently know, and don't understand...they can be quick to judge and act based on portions of what makes them who they are. It doesn't make them bad people; right or wrong, they are just the type of people that they are.

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(After the following stories that relate to what I said previously about Bunker and Sanford, I shall return to my curmudgeonly considerations below...)

When I was in high school in West Germany, 1978-1979, I lived in a dormitory. I played American-style football on the school team. There was only one person I'm aware of who would allow some of us...who were black to stay with her on the weekends. I remember being prepared by some of my teamates as I walked to meet her for the first time: "...Now...you need to understand...she's an old white woman...kind of set in her ways...she don't mean no harm...Mrs. Case is just the way she is..."

Mrs. Case, a white woman, would feed us and make sure we were OK and safe. I don't know what her past is, but Mrs. Case described us as (her) "colored boys": "...my boys will be over this weekend...you know, my colored boys that stay with me." If you ever took the time to get to know Mrs. Case, you would realized that...this is the only way she ever knew and understood as to how refer to our ethnicity. For whatever reason, she didn't use "black" on "negro". In her defense (in which I will always be), maybe because (to her) those terms were demeaning/derogatory/antagonistic. Who knows why, and it doesn't matter why. I expect something in her past led her to use the terminology the way she did. We could tell by her actions that her use of the term "colored" was intended and meant to be used with much love and affection, and we accepted her support. We listened to her heart, and not her words...

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For a little while I lived in Rantoul, Illinois and became very active with the local citizen band (CB) radio community. One day some of us went to help someone erect a tower at their home. We were a mixed bunch of different kind of folk: male, female, young, old, black, white, etcetera. Later, the owner invited me to dinner.

After dinner, he said he needed to be honest with me, and we went to his bedroom so he could show me what was in his closet: his KKK robes. He asked if I were afraid. I said that I was not afraid of the robes.

Over more beer, we talked about why he was a member: it was his belief that there should be no mixing of heritages. I have never wanted to tell anyone what they can, and cannot, believe. And that was that. We remained as friendly as we could, and...because he continued to have me over for beer and meals...he was kicked-out of the KKK.

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I've met some people in my professional life who I found to be privately, and when around me, greatly bigoted. It was VERY weird: the person was cordial, polite, and personable to those they had a business relationship with...but when Caucasians were not around, they let their true feelings show! "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"...

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(curmudgeon /on)

There have been times that some of the crap I've said when "on stage" was taken much more seriously than it was ever meant. It's happened so much I've asked family members and friends to not listen to my radio shows and comedy routines. I've always tried to make sure that it was very clear that I meant no intentional offense...because, if I ever did, I want it to be very clear that I mean to offend in the most harshest way possible.

There are very few I can openly joke with that know and understand I'm not "taking a swing" at anyone, and I'm just riffing...

Stern, Greaseman, Imus...we've all crossed that line with no malicious intentions, just collateral damage. Lenny Bruce...Don Rickles...Richard Pryor...Crosby, Stills, and Nash...The Dixie Chicks...Michael Richards...Peter Griffin...being creative involves errors in judgement and material in an attempt to try to get it to be what it should for the audience it is intended for. You don't know you've gone too far...until you have.

Having said all of that, I also remind everyone:
you chose to stay for the rest of the show (you could have left, but you chose to stay)...
"There are controls on your radio/television..."
and, you can continue to read the material, or stop reading it and move on to something else.

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