Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cholera, Jack the Ripper, the Blitz and Deep Fried Chicken

According to this BBC story, Tower Hamlets, where I live, is the UK’s third most deprived borough. Thank you! It’s also “at the heart of an obesity epidemic.” (Funny how the estate agent glossed over these details. I guess she figured no one would respond to an ad for a TWO BEDROOM FLAT IN ROLY-POLY GHETTO HELL—unless the prospective tenant was a “chubby chaser” who liked his ladies down-and-out, like yours truly.)

After surviving cholera, Jack the Ripper and the Blitz, the biggest threat facing London’s east end today is . . . delicious greasy food. And no wonder. There are about fifty-thousand fried chicken/kebab shops within a one mile radius of my home. Step outside and you’ll notice the air on my street smells like bacon (I saw a man take a deep breath the other day and gain fifteen pounds). Life expectancy is so low here that 6-year-old kids wear ragged “Old Fart” t-shirts and any 14-year-old worth his salt is in the final stages of dementia.

Seems pretty grim, doesn’t it? Not if you use a little bit of imagination. I like to think of my neighbours as low-income Oompa-Loompas, like from the film Charlie’s Chocolate Services. The only difference is, instead of being funny little orange guys with green hair that sing silly songs as they make sweets, my neighbours are dejected boys that pelt my window with bottles and stones and insult me in a language that sounds nothing like Loompa. I haven’t won their chubby hearts yet, but when I do, I’m going to tell my tormentors all about Roald Dahl. If he can’t set them straight, I don’t know which children’s author can.

Even when they’re not outside my window, my neighbours are always trying to get me. Walking home at night recently, I nearly passed away when I slipped on a pile of barely visible, super greasy french fries scattered under an archway. How did they get there? A large boy (considering me “prize game”) obviously planted them there, hoping I would fall and break my neck so that he could lug me home and turn me into a very special shawarma. That is not how I want to go. Luckily, I survived and learned from my close-call. These days, I wear special shoes whenever I leave the house. To make sure I never die.

I understand why my neighbours feel so angry. This area is so poor that the local dentist operates out of a van. Once a month, a “mobile dental unit” parks at the top of my street (preceded by shouts of “Toothman! Shine yer teef for a shilling!”) It’s humiliating for everyone. I’ve yet to set foot in this so-called “Toothmobile,” but I do have a lot of questions, like: Is the dentist also the driver? Is the dentist really a dentist? Where did you get this vehicle? You don’t think you’re going to get away with this, do you?

So, what’s the answer? Unlike other epidemics, obesity can be cured with carrots and jogging. Poverty’s a little bit trickier, as the carrots and jogging are completely ineffective without some sort of education. I just hope that the British government (or Roald Dahl) finds a way to help Tower Hamlets help itself. Otherwise, the boys at my window are going to die of angina before they get a chance to murder me.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm A Better Person Than Josef Fritzl

I have a shitty habit of comparing myself to great historical figures and measuring my achievements against theirs. It’s a losing game! Who needs to hear that by the time he was 16, Alexander the Great had already conquered a city and named it after himself? When I was sixteen, a bully renamed me after himself and convinced my parents to go along with it. Shameful.

Things look even worse when I size myself up against female pop singer Pink. When she was 16, she’d already sung on the soundtrack for Shaquille O’Neal’s paganistic genie-comedy Kazaam. I didn’t even know what a Kazaam was when I was 16—I wasn’t brought up that way. The worst thing is, even if I dedicated the rest of my life to getting a song on the Kazaam soundtrack, I’d still never catch up to Pink.

The list of people I’m officially inferior to is endless: Joan of Arc, Orson Welles, Donovan, Nelson Mandela, Anna Paquin, the cast of YouTube, etc. My problem is that I don’t put these great lives in context; until 1973, no one lived past the age of 25, so if you wanted to achieve anything in life you had to start as soon as you escaped from your mother’s Guantanamo-like womb. There were also fewer distractions back then. Just think of what we could all achieve without timewasters like the internet, cell phones and condoms. Living in the olden times must have been like being a citizen of Paradise (except for all the polio and race hate).

Maybe the key is to aim a bit lower. Instead of measuring myself against great achievers, I should switch tactics and compare myself to thieves, jerks and gigantic perverts. Once I do that, my inaction suddenly begins to look virtuous. For instance, I can hold my head high knowing that I, unlike a certain Charles Manson, wasn’t pimping young girls in L.A. when I was 24. I consider this a moral victory.

What else haven’t I done? I’ve never worn a big jacket to school and opened fire on my classmates before—surely this reflects well on my noble character and sound judgment. The way I see it, the government owes me some sort of medal (or, failing that, it can simply declare a national feast day in my honour).

As for my dubious work-ethic, I look pretty industrious when you consider that some people live in comas for decades. What do those lazybones do during that time? Nothin’ for nobody! I on the other hand am always chipping away at one project or another, waiting for the perfect moment to strike and become a billionaire.

So, starting today, I’m going to stop driving Michael Balazo crazy. Instead of gazing wistfully up at Heaven, I’m going to start smirking down at Hell. Because no matter what happens, I’m a better person than Josef Fritzl. Or Dane Cook.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Unpopular St. Patrick's Day Traditions

Bathing Shane McGowan

Getting to third base with the Blarney Stone

Telling a Guantanamo Bay prisoner that "today everyone's Irish"

Injecting your colon with green dye to create the “Leprechaun’s parcel” effect

Cuckolding Frank McCourt

Fuelling your car with Guinness, driving your car and ruining your car

Dressing up like Eugene O’Neill and visiting sick children

Force-feeding Lucky Charms to the homeless

Heckling the Boston Celtics for cooperating with “the Brits”

Playing your mashup of “Danny Boy” and “Suck My Kiss” for your nanny

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tips For Ex-Billionaires

Between 2008 and 2009, the number of billionaires on earth dropped from an arousing 1,125 to a balls-chilling 793. That’s 332 fallen billionaires. To put that in context, that’s 332 fewer invitations sent out to this year’s “Billionaire’s Gangbang” in St. Louis, Missouri—home of the blues. So, what will these 332 sad men do next? And how will they pass the long hours until they die—screaming and filthy—in the gutters of the world?

I admit I am not, and never have been, a member of the billionaire brotherhood (in truth, I make less money than most bourgeois children with allowances—the price I pay for a little something called “integrity”) but I feel a powerful urge to help these ruined men. There but for fortune, I could have been a deracinated billionaire, and they could have been slam poets. My message to my fancy brothers is this: keep your hands busy and your minds occupied to stave off sin and depression. I know it’s going to be hard to adjust to your new lives as hated, untouchable hundred-millionaires, but you’ve got to try—if not for yourselves, then for your wives, children and buxom teenaged mistresses.

Regarding your hands: get a part time job—preferably at an independently owned hardware store. I always find that selling a hammer or some sort of screwdriver to a gruff workingman raises my spirit and brings me closer to Christ, the carpenter. If employment is scarce, take up a hobby. I myself learn a new musical instrument every time I’m “let go” from one of my “jobs.” These days, thanks to my shaky employment history, I’m a regular one man band. Not to brag, but my musical arsenal featuring the following weapons: an electric bass guitar, bongos, cymbals, a flute, a toy trumpet, a concertina, a banjo, three harmonicas (in the keys of A, C and E) and a train whistle. Trust me: no one can be sad who has a room full of instruments he or she will eventually master. (I think I’ll be ordering a clarinet next week.)

Regarding your minds: devote one hour per day to some sort of mental game (such as a crossword, riddle or, if necessary, word jumble) and at least two hours per evening to reading. What should you read? I myself like two types of books: grammar guides and novels set in exotic locations peopled by mysterious, insatiable beauties who regard clothing as a prison. Both genres have their merits; either way, you will profit.

I hope that the former billionaires find consolation in my words (words are all I can offer at the moment, although I wouldn’t hesitate to embrace any of the 332 disgraced tycoons if they knocked on my humble door). My suggestions are both practical and spiritual, and will save 332 lives. We can’t have former billionaires roaming the streets all night, causing trouble and demanding foie gras from passersby, can we? No, we can’t; we cannot.