Brandon Wardell

young brandon wardell

Remarkable comedic talent in young people is easy to spot. It presents itself insistently and clearly. What the precocious possessor of the talent will do with it — develop it or let it wither — is hard to predict (as demonstrated by our previous comedy New Discoveries). In the case of DC-raised, Los Angeles-based comedian Brandon Wardell, 22, we have a hunch that he’s going to be making people laugh for a long time. Already, he’s a fine joke writer and a confident orator, with flashes of conceptual brilliance that recall Bo Burnham, another young man intent on doing his own thing. We sense in Brandon Wardell a nascent artistry, a growing acceptance of his comic individuality. It should be an interesting journey to watch.

Religious Champions of Discrimination

rights can't wait

America’s religious leaders, some of the most esteemed and respectable citizens in our republic, are helping us understand that our precious freedoms — the ones our brave soldiers fight and die for in faraway dust bowls most of us can’t find on a map — are once again under attack. This time the perpetrator isn’t a hairy Muslim in pajamas or an angry white guy with an automatic weapon and the phrase “2nd Amendment is 1st in My Heart” tattooed on his shoulder. This time it’s the White House.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order this week that barred anyone doing business with the United States government from discriminating against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, or transgendered Americans. The upshot: if you want to hang onto your tax exemptions, government contracts and subsidies, you must hire the ungodly and unworthy, the sodomites and Sapphos and freaks.

Now, this . . . → Read More: Religious Champions of Discrimination

Redskins Forever!

washington-redskins-logo

The Washington Redskins have the coolest nickname in all of sports. Their logo – a stone-faced Indian wearing 19th Century feathers – is also pretty awesome.

Here’s how you know the name “Redskins” isn’t a slur against a conquered and marginalized people but is actually a part of the NFL’s long tradition of diversity and inclusion, on and off the field: a league spokesman said, “The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive, and respectful image.”

Exactly. It’s not like they’re called the “Injuns,” or the “Savages,” or the “Inferior Race of People Who Couldn’t Stop the White Man’s Invasion.” It’s Redskins, as in the color of skin most of those people have. I mean, look at the helmet! Reddish skin is an honest description. Just like if you had a team of African Masai warriors, you could accurately call them . . . → Read More: Redskins Forever!

I Am

i-am-02

For anyone who suspects (or has figured out) that much of what is commonly understood to be The Truth About Life is actually a series of mistakes, lies, and fantasies, the film “I Am” is a powerful affirmation that we’re onto something. Director Tom Shadyac used to be Director: Tom Shadyac, the auteur of big-budget Hollywood comedies starring Jim Carrey and Eddie Murphy. Addicted to more of everything, Shadyac acquired and consumed and wondered why the hole he was trying to fill never seemed complete. After a serious illness, he switched paths. “I Am,” made with the craftsmanship of an old pro, chronicles Shadyac’s exhilarating journey toward enlightenment. Desmond Tutu, Howard Zinn, and Noam Chomsky are some of the thought leaders interviewed, along with a menagerie of brilliant authors and scientists speaking plainly and clearly. What they — and the New Tom . . . → Read More: I Am

When Credibility Is More Important Than Justice

upholding the law

In a story headlined “Pot’s popularity, state law create trying times for U.S. prosecutor,” a Los Angeles Times reporter named Joe Mozingo attempted a sympathetic profile of a United States attorney who works closely with DEA agents to imprison Americans for possessing or selling cannabis, even when those Americans are obeying state law. How tricky, how challenging! Especially when the prosecutor, Julie Shemitz, 57, admits that she personally has no grievance with the plant or people who enjoy it.

Indeed, she claims she wouldn’t care if Congress made it legal.

Then why does she ruin the lives of people who she understands are no threat to society? According to the newspaper, so the Justice Department can “remain credible.”

A Justice Department that prosecutes immoral laws has no credibility. Yet, so long as there are credulous writers like Mozingo and rationalizing dupes like Julie Shemitz willing to do . . . → Read More: When Credibility Is More Important Than Justice

Poem: A Brief Autobiography

clitboys_1

The 2014 MichaelKonik.com SUMMER POETRY FESTIVAL, June30-July13. A New Poem Every Morning

 

I was a punk rocker. A real one. Original Midwestern Hardcore Punk Thrash

loud and fast and angry enough to convey the depths of agony

residing in our adolescent breasts, the unspeakable (only screamable) pain

of being trapped like a bear in a sharp leg clamp,

tortured by the knowledge that we were ensnared in a system

we wouldn’t choose except under the threat of torture, and maybe not even then.

Not having a choice: “I want to have high ideals, I want to love mankind,

trust my fellow man, be loving true and kind – but everyone tells me ‘No!’ Everyone tells me

‘No such thing!’” That’s what upset us so in those naïve days before

we figured out how it’s all arranged.

 

For a minute or some decades . . . → Read More: Poem: A Brief Autobiography

Poem: If One Could Add the Entirety

Godhead of the light

If one could add the entirety

of what we can see

and what we can’t –

the supplicant on a rant,

the matter dark, unknowable,

a bitterness that’s stowable –

what we would have to examine

are children wrenched by famine,

a panoply of catastrophes,

like man-made war, and disease.

 

We would also deign to look

at an ancient antiquated book

imparting wisdom, dispensing lessons,

doling out her meager blessings

to those who care to think

that knowing God demands a link

to better angels, vibes much higher,

illuminated by your fire,

the one that burns within

where there’s no hell and there’s no sin.

When you glow the healing starts

proving science doth love the arts.

 

We know the good resides all ‘round,

that humble plots are sacred ground,

that if you focus on the light

you’ll develop . . . → Read More: Poem: If One Could Add the Entirety

Poem: The Difference

malnourished children

The difference ‘tween him and he

appears at first randomly

in mutations rare

results unfair

blessing him with ignorance

cursing he with intelligence.

 

 

If a plan there be

we fail to see

what force of kindness

manufactured blindess

to that which pulses like the breast

of pigeondoves and marmosets.

The one who looks not like you

the blackdykewopniggajew

heshehim your sisterbrother

emerging from a wombless mother

the difference ‘tween us and it

disappears when tightly knit.

Poem: Changeable

cute chamelon

Chameleons are cute

what with their changing colors and all that

adorableness ready-made for advertising campaigns

but when hunting they are less charming

more like their brutish brethren that merely slither

unblinking and expressionless

the toughest poker pedant to take

an oath

Hippocratic or otherwise

you would not find the same cute chameleon quite so cute

in a marketing cute kind of way

if you saw the lizard with a beetle in its mouth

not yet dead but vaguely aware that the insistent crushing pressure upon its abdomen

means among other less important things that this is the end

and please let it come soon and let the pain

this pain

this excruciating pain of jaws pinching into my middle

my guts and viscera starting to ooze

let it end

the three arms that aren’t trapped I flail about

summoning and being forsaken

in . . . → Read More: Poem: Changeable

Poem: Minor Miracles

it's all miraculous

Looking at the sun and hearing the yellowrumped warblers

I realized conclusively today that all of this

Everything is a miracle

All this Life

Please begin enumerating counting to 300 billion and perhaps

When you reach the end of your Time here

On yes this miracle of the galaxy

You will know the truth like birds know the tops of trees

And all the fighting and hurting over nothing made to seem like everything

Will cease and then disappear

When all of us minor miracles that comprise the larger miracle

Realize conclusively that we are One and

What we are is miraculous