Seattle Space Needle Reflection at Night

A Funny Thing Happened on My Way Home from Work

I was walking home from work on Tuesday night when some guy sauntered up beside me and said “Pssst, you need tickets?”

“No”, I replied, before looking up at the nearby Paramount Theater marquee to see who I was being offered tickets to see.  Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Norm McDonald (and Tim Meadows and Nick Swardson, I would find out once in the venue).

The show was starting in a half-hour, and I didn’t hold out much hope for ticket availability, so imagine my surprise when I walked up to the box office and learned that they did, indeed, have two tickets left.  Good floor seats too.  And they could be mine for $100/each.  Shit, that’s what I would pay for scalped tickets in the balcony.  I set about to do the math.

“Let me see”, I thought, “Seven hundred ninety nine dicks so far this week, at twenty five cents each, add five, multiply by fifteen, carry the one … $199.75, oh no, excuse me, sir … I had exactly $200! Can you imagine the luck?  Woo-hoo!

A deal with the box office attendant was struck, and not a moment too soon.  Behind me came some other last-minute folks, and from what I could tell once inside, I had snagged the last two seats.  At least the last two seats on the floor.  If it wasn’t sold-out, it was damn close.  Not bad for a Tuesday evening.  Not bad for a show which I would later find out, few people even knew was going down.  Especially not bad for a group of fellow Generation Xers.

To this day, the early-mid 1990’s is an important period of time in America.  It was the last time America was still #1.  In 1994, the 10 tallest buildings in the world were still in the United States.  The USA was still the most Internet-connected country on earth. We were still the envy of the world. People did not need to be tricked into buying American goods and services … people wanted to buy them, and they could still do so without agreeing to waive their constitutional rights.

It was not yet possible to self-select the news one read, and people were still exposed to a wide range of ideas and opinions, and we didn’t even think to Twitter shame others for having differing viewpoints.  In part because there was no Twitter, and in part because it wasn’t yet the norm for everyone in a given peer group to agree with each other on everything.  The decade wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but it was the closest thing to tolerance this nation has ever witnessed, and probably always will be.

Corporations were still corporations, and not people, everyone wasn’t a terrorist in the 1990’s, and the government had yet to place literally everyone under mass surveillance.  We’d had yet to have a government contractor defecting to the Soviet Union because they faced persecution here, and the wealth gap, while wide, was not as big as it is now.

Instead of handing their content over to corporate bit buckets, people still made websites, and most of them were not monetized.  People made them because they wanted to create, and have freedom, and only the lamest of the lame sequester themselves in digital corporate ghettos like AOL (the forerunner to Facebook’s digital ghetto).

Culturally, it was the USA’s peak.  The early 90’s is what is widely referred to as hip-hop’s “golden age”, and the rappers who came out of that era (Biggie, Tupac, etc) are still the most revered today.  Rock music peaked as well, with early 90’s band being among the last for which there is any true reverence to this day.  In fact, when the concert for Hurricane Sandy victims was held in 2012, it was notable that nearly all of the bands on the bill were formed pre-1999. Kids still listened to harder, noisier, more aggressive music than their parents.

Members of the working class could still start bands, and you weren’t a “brogrammer” just because you weren’t autistic.  Bona-fide city kids still existed, all “alternative” people didn’t have the same nose piercing, suburban gentrifiers had yet to start an urban cultural holocaust, you still got trophies for winning, gay people still practiced tolerance, and MTV still played music in the 90’s.

It was a bit before 9/11, a bit after the Reagan years, and it was the last time America was the arguable epicenter of the galaxy.  That there remains a strong and persistent nostalgia for this period of time that is not hard to understand.  Everything from music, to movies, to TV hit a creative peak, the likes of which have yet to recapture in any real way.

Yes, I know that nostalgia is nothing new.  Older boomers had Grease, younger boomers had Hair, and millennial hipsters fetishized the 70’s so much they destroyed the goodwill anyone else had for that decade.

Most people I talk to feel that this one’s a bit different.  Perhaps it’s the strong demarcation of 9/11 and the War on Terror, rampant consolidation of media and entertainment, or the fact that the 2000’s were the first decade to not see a new genre of music take hold.   While each decade has heralded the current generation of young adults as “the worst generation ever”, there is a particular fever this time around, and a near-ubiquity of sentiment, which makes this one transcend typical inter-generational bickering.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s just fucking auto-tune.  Few things have squatted over a generation, relaxed its sphincter, and emptied its fetid contents over the cultural output of a generation quite like auto-tune. That one “invention” could probably stand on its own as the primary driver of anti-American sentiment worldwide.

Starting at the turn of the century, America was it culturally.

We gave the world Swing, Big Band, the Blues, Country-Western, Folk, Rock and Roll, Psychedelic Rock, Heavy Metal (co-invented), Funk, Disco, Hardcore Punk, Go-Go, Alternative Rock, Grunge, Post-Grunge, I said a hip hop, a hibbie, a hibb to the hip hip hop and you don’t stop, a rock it to the bang bang boogie, say, up jump the boogie, to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.

So when Gen Y came along, and took all of this product, all of this creative output, ran it through a vocoder, and said “Done! That’s our generation’s contribution!”, people couldn’t help but wonder if the USA had run its course.  It’s a question people are still asking.

To be fair, younger Boomers and older Generation Xers turned out to be the worst parents of all time, thus creating the cultural vacuum that is Gen Y and Mellenials, but the fact remains that when we want to re-live the days of American dominance, we look back to the nearest decade in which that was still the case.

Last but not least, the 90’s were probably the peak of our cultural contribution to late night television, Saturday Night Live. I mean, for crying out loud, the following people were more or less the SNL cast from 1990-1995:

Chris Farley 90-95
Adam Sandler 91-95
Chris Rock 90-93
Rob Schneider 90-94
David Spade 90-96
Norm McDonald 93-98
Tim Meadows 91-00
Mike Myers 89-95
Phil Hartman 86-94
Kevin Nealon 86-95
Dana Carvey 86-93

Shit, that’s the dream team right there. ’90-95 was, without a doubt, the peak for Saturday Night Live.  Heck, it was the peak of Western Culture.

Now don’t get me wrong, other decades had/have contenders.  Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, etc, will always be the ones that made SNL an institution to begin with.  There has also been greatness since the 2000, with members like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, Tracy Morgan, Jimmy Fallon, etc, but those guys were Generation Xers finishing up that generational run before passing the baton, and it hasn’t been all bad since.  I think that ten years from now Pete Davidson is going to be his generation’s Adam Sandler.  I think Jay Pharaoh is as funny as the greats, and I think Cecily Strong has been surprisingly, well, strong. I don’t understand why they replaced the latter on Weekend Update.

Even though I’ve watched SNL for more or less my entire life, and I’ve been a fan of many cast members, I would not urinate on Lorne Michaels were he on fire.  He’s an elitist, classist fuck who would never have been able to surround himself with greatness were it not for the silver spoon shoved up his asshole since birth.

“Yes, it got a laugh, but did it get the right laugh? And what I mean by that is, what percentage of those laughing have trust funds, and what percentage have to work for a living? Fa fa fa fa fa” – Lorne Michaels in my own head

Were a monkey to climb into a Bumbershoot Festival porta-potty, and in the portable bathroom were he to furiously masturbate to naked pictures of Bea Arthur, and at the moment of climax, were he to shoot his load into the open hole in the toilet … the stuff at the bottom of the porta-potty … the shit, piss, snot, menstrual goo, and Bea Arthur-inspired monkey semen all combined together … would be something I would personally have a greater affinity for than Lorne Michaels.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes, I saw a comedy show on Tuesday evening, and wouldn’t you know it, it featured a bunch of SNL alumni from the early-mid 90’s.  It was a good show.  A really good show, actually.  Each guy did an individual set, and then they all came together at the end for a little singalong.

After the show,  we tried to rate the sets, but it was hard, because no one had a subpar set.  Then again, it wasn’t like I was watching an open mic or amateur night.  I supposed the benefit of seeing a roster of established, veteran comics, is the knowledge that you probably won’t have to sit through a bad set. I’ll briefly touch on each one.

I’d never seen Schneider do standup before.  Of course I know all of his characters, but his skill as a standup is something I wasn’t aware of.  Dude is funny even when not doing one of his iconic characters.

Rob Schneider

Rob Schneider

Meadows is funnier as a standup than I’d realized too.  He does like the weed, quite a bit apparently, and was even gifted a bag of said substance mid-set.

Tim Meadows

Tim Meadows

Norm is, well, Norm.  Homeboy isn’t right in the head, never has been really, but he could read the phone book and it would be hilarious.  I don’t always know why it’s hilarious, I just know that it usually is.  Norm even got laughs talking about his (apparently) poorly-functioning pecker.  Norm McDonald remains my favorite Weekend Update host of all time.  I even had the pleasure of watching his “farewell performance” live.  Hey Norm, by the way, did you ever find out what the fuck that was?

Spade has always been a personal favorite as well.  I just wish he’d inject a little sarcasm into his sets.  I mean, come on Dave, enough of the physical comedy already. Enough of the pratfalls, funny faces, etc.  There’s already one Jim Carey in the world, and one Jim Carey is more than enough. After Spade’s set on Tuesday night, I can say with relative certainty that, assuming he was one before the gig, the Paramount Theater’s lighting technician is no longer a David Spade fan.

Now, I don’t have cable tv, and I don’t watch many movies.  Probably due in part to these reasons, I didn’t know who the fuck the non-SNL guy was, Nick Swardson.  I mean, I recognized his face, and I’d definitely seen him before, but fuck me sideways up the ass with a baby alligator if I knew what his name was.  He was funny as hell, and I know him now, so better late than never.

The final comic of the night was some guy named, aw shit, wait, I know this one, his name starts with an ‘a’ and … he looks kinda Jewish … I don’t mean anything by that, he just had these big bags of money up there with him, and he was using this remote control thingie to control the media and government with, so, you know, I figured he must be a Jew.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot, he sacrificed this Christian baby and wiped the blood on his horns, so the more I think back, dude was so a Jew.

Hold on … ok, here it is, his name was “Adam Sandler” (thank you Wikipedia).

As you might imagine, Adam was the headliner and he was greeted as such … namely with thunderous applause and a standing-O.  Once onstage, Sandler did his unique brand of musical comedy, and I just don’t think the crowd could have been more receptive or more pleased with the performance they received.  Sandler did a solid ninety minutes by himself, which is more than I expected, and he held the audience’s eager attention for every minute of it. There were tears of laughter, but also tears of sadness, when toward the end of his set, he sang a song he wrote about the late Chris Farley.  I knew Farley many years ago, before the world knew his name, and it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that here in 2016, he is near-universally adored by an entire generation. It saddens me that he’s not here to enjoy it, but he had an “x-factor” that was always apparent, and he never became a prick, even when it would have been easy (and even understandable) for him to do so. Props to Sandler for making Chris part of the show, if only for a few minutes.

Last but not least, all of the comics came out on stage at the end of the night for one final song, taking verse turns on a cover of The Who’s “My Generation”.  This was a song that, growing up, I always knew as “My Genitalia”.  Alas, the fellas were faithful to the original on this night.  While most vocal turns were, frankly, pretty bad, Tim Meadows surprised the audience with his verse.  He has the singing voice of a rock band frontman. Alas, even Tim was overshadowed when Eddie Vedder strolled onstage for a turn on the mic.

And there they were on one stage:  Sandler, Spade, Vedder … hell, it was the best night for Generation X since the actual 90’s.

This being Seattle in the 2010’s, a place I’ve come to call “MEattle”, the night wasn’t completely without flies in the ointment.  Due to my 6’3″ stature, I tend to be hyper-considerate at shows.  At general admission shows, I tend to stand toward the back, and even when I try to get closer to the stage, frequent are the times I invite people to stand in front of me so that they can see better.  When the seating is assigned, I tend to slouch down and ride low in the seat, reducing my height as much as possible.

On Tuesday night, a relatively tall man in his 60’s and his much younger, much shorter boy toy sat in front of us, and lucky me, tall dude chose the seat directly in front of me.  It probably goes without saying (MEattle and all), but Big Man did not share my consideration for those around me.  Not only did Lurch sit up, straight as an arrow, he also added about 6 inches to his height by donning a big-ass hat.  You know, in case there was a 6’3″ guy behind him who might have been able to see.

Asshole

Asshole

There he sat, hat and all, through the entire show.  Every minute of it.  I tried to get his attention a couple of times, but he never flinched.  Several times I turned around and looked behind me, and I noticed people in the rows behind me also struggling to see around hatman.

It was one of those “only in Seattle” things which are so stereotypically rude, you just assume people are exaggerating when they talk about it.  I mean, what grown adult makes it to his 60’s, without ever once coming to the realization that it’s rude to gratuitously increase your increase your height in a theater, at a show in which people paid $100/ticket?

I can’t answer the question, but I can say that such antics are quite standard these days in MEattle.  The great irony of the uber-progressive is that they are far and away the most selfish people on the planet.  It’s all but destroyed my own involvement in progressive causes. They’re all run by insincere, self-centered phonies.  I mean, who in their right mind would believe that this man is desperately concerned about the world he leaves behind for others?  Can anyone, anyone, with a straight face, tell me that this man genuinely cares about the planetary temperatures my grandchildren will have to endure 60 years from now?

Of course such a concern has never crossed his mind.  Whatever his interest in environmental causes, or any other cause for that matter, is not for anyone else’s benefit.

I disliked this man.  How much?  Well, if a rabid baboon to climb into a Bumbershoot Festival porta-potty … eh, let’s just say I disliked him a great deal.  It was tough at times, but fortunately, I didn’t let this Me-Firster ruin my night.

All-in-all, I have to say it was an excellent show.  I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, but I’m very glad I rolled the dice.  Clocking in at 3.5 hours (including one 15-ish minute intermission) it was also worth every penny.

My jaw, however, may never be the same.

Adam Sandler, Norm McDonald, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Tim Meadows, Nick Swardson, and Right-Said-Ed Vedder cover the Who's "My Generation"

Adam Sandler, Norm McDonald, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Tim Meadows, Nick Swardson, and Right-Said-Ed Vedder cover the Who’s “My Generation”

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