20 May YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO AND PITTSBURGH, PA: “WHERE ENTERTAINMENT HAPPENS”
All my clothes smell like a bowling alley. People in Youngstown do not know how to smoke. Don’t they get Robert Mitchum films at the Blockbuster here? Probably not.
I’m not kidding — people will walk up to you, smoking a ciggie, and as they talk to you, they merrily blow huge clouds of smoke directly at you. I don’t give a fuck if people smoke around me, really. But even the rudest, dumbest smokers I know have learned that cool, “out-of-the-side-of-the-mouth” exhale that sends an elegant, swirling cloud off in another direction. I don’t even think these people realize they’re doing it, ‘cuz they do it to each other, back and forth, and no one objects.
The shows last night were both fun, if a little weird. Bush supporters have become — and I can’t think of a better term for this — happily resigned. When I talk about how he’s openly screwing the working class, they nod and laugh and shake their heads. “What can we do about it?” Uh, maybe not vote for him. Although, it’s probably not Ohio’s fault. The majority of audience members, in each show, cheer when I say that Bush sucks. They’re beginning to hate him in the Midwest. I guess when he says “Jesus,” it no longer drowns out the sound of people’s jobs going overseas, the screams of their sons and daughters getting sniped in Iraq, and the demon braying of his cronies gobbling up their kids’ future. It’s also becoming clear that the election was stolen, and that it was done in Ohio. Look, when Bush-backing, Kerry-hating Christopher Hitchens says the books were cooked, you know it’s a stolen election. And yet, people would still come up to me, shake my hand, say, “Good show, man!” and then follow it up with, “I sure don’t agree with you about Bush, but you’re still funny.”
Weird reactionary moment: A young comedian dropped in to do a guest set on the late show. At one point, he made a clumsy joke about Third World kids making his clothes for seven cents an hour, and how evil that was, and a lady in the front row piped up: “Someone had to make ‘em, asshole!”
Please Google the lyrics to Bruce Springsteen’s “Youngstown,” and then come back and read the rest of this.
The local paper, besides printing a Bible quote on the op/ed page every morning, also has a column called “Orchids and Onions”. It’s a “Cheers and Jeers” type thingie, where they give “Orchids” to things they like, and “Onions” to things they don’t. Hey, that’s a cool idea!
ORCHIDS: To both of the audiences I’ve had so far. A lot of fans bringing CDs, polite (!) bachelorette parties, and free drinks.
ONIONS: To the horrifying, life-crisis hook-up bar Choices, which is next to the comedy club in this ghastly, Holiday Inn “Entertainment Complex.” The deejay, in a instance of trying to send his barbaric yawp over the heads of the desperate and indifferent, BLASTS his music so that the bass comes thumping through the walls of the comedy club. I’m not kidding — it nearly drowns out the comedians. I can’t imagine how loud it must be in Choices. Although, judging by the people inside (from the five minutes I was able to stand being in the joint) conversation probably isn’t a strong point, so a bowel-melting wall of “Another One Bites the Dust” and “What I Like About You” is just as well.
ONIONS: To the Holiday Inn I’m staying in. The whole place is “entertainment themed,” with a motto: “Where entertainment happens.” That means there’s paintings of mimes everywhere. I’m not kidding. The halls have various pointing mime paintings, showing you where to get ice, find the elevators, or stumble towards Choices (not that you can’t follow the blaring, these-speakers-go-to-11 “Red Red Wine”). The doors to the rooms have a painting of a mime sleeping. Plus, the menu in the restaurant has nauseating food names like “Silence of the Hams,” “Last Xango in Paris” and, for some reason, a caramel dessert called “The Unforgiven”.
ORCHIDS: To the fact I’m leaving Sunday.
ONIONS: To myself, for thinking I could get any work done while I’m in a Holiday Inn in Youngstown.