Frisco, CO (ACTJ) – A friend of mine once gave me a magnet for my refrigerator. We can address that later. Thursday evening in Frisco may be of little value to those who havenâ€™t been stranded alongside I-70, but this strange little town may as well be the nexus of the universe for a disillusioned American in the latter half of life. The days are a waste; filled with tourism of all conceivable manner. Fancy little fuck boys, rocking their grey sweatpants; masks underneath their chin, as they stroll up and down Main Street, looking for a chance to score with a fully vaccinated Caucasian female. Middle aged mountaineers, unloading their $5,000 bicycles, and preparing for a hard ride on paved trails that intersect with the municipality. Geriatric retirees, likely living out their remaining post-vaccine months, basking in the sunshine, 9,000 ft. Above sea level. Itâ€™s hard to tell whoâ€™s who anymore. With social distancing and mandatory masking a thing of the past, one must pay attention to more subtle clues. If clues cannot be gathered, itâ€™s always easy to judge. The year is 2021, and facts are nearly irrelevant. Itâ€™s far better to pay attention to our feelings. Fish at the Silverheels Bar and Grill is no laughing matter. At nearly $30 per plate, it must only be assumed that the pallet should be pleased. Wasabi Salmon for the win. Tigerâ€™s blood and Moscow Mules…..three may be enough for dinner, but eavesdropping a conversation could easily require more. Along came a guru. As best as I could gather, it seems as though our guru found his companions at the bar. Waxing eloquent about construction leadership, it seemed as though I was on the outskirts of the presence of a less talented version of Joel Osteen. The liquor was definitely doing the thinking, as he implored his captive college students to understand his vision. Heâ€™s â€œtrying to develop a new futureâ€. I canâ€™t say I blame him. Iâ€™m just trying to drink Moscow Mules. Ramblings of a lunatic mind became more evident as he recalled his many bouts of depression……there was a certain earnestness to his voice; the type of begging that we hear on a Sunday television program. The desire to smack him upside the head was getting insatiable…..just in time for him to ask his female target: â€œdo you exercise a lot?â€. Fucking hell……here we go. All gurus are the same. God knows Iâ€™m no better. â€œThe reason I brought it up. You know why I like you? I like to have the shit kicked out of me.â€ Itâ€™s like he could read my mind……Iâ€™d better be careful. Heâ€™s obviously a fucking Jedi. With the danger in this situation becoming increasingly apparent, its best to down the last Mule on the table, fret not for any unaccounted balloon knots, and motion to pay the tab. No good can come from prolonged exposure to this mad manâ€™s drivel. I can barely hear him anyway. He tells his apprentices that they have â€œintrinsic kinetic energy.â€ His female apprentice says: â€œI wishâ€ The guru responds: â€œYou wish. That means thereâ€™s hope. I believe in hope.â€ Itâ€™s so fucking weird…. Now he says some female â€œkeeps sending him crazy fucking things.â€……I can certainly relate…sometimes. Hope is a dangerous idea. Itâ€™s definitely time to go….pay the bill before my urges to interact become all encompassing. He keeps saying â€œSirâ€, emphasizing the consonants, as though they are but a prelude to some sort of linguistic orgasm…..heaven help us all. The guru is heating up from downtown. My server is lovely….she reminds me of the kind of woman that wouldâ€™ve stolen my heart 20 years ago. Back when I had a heart. Back before I sold my soul…… Tip her well. It may be the last opportunity. The last thing I heard from the guru, as I made my way out the door….â€when I was young, I didnâ€™t know how to…..â€ Shut up. â€œWrite drunk, edit soberâ€ Thatâ€™s what the magnet said. Hemingway be damned.
SINGAPORE (ACTJ) â€” As misinformation regarding the origin of COVID-19 continues to spread across social media, Facebook has announced plans to contain dangerous and completely unsubstantiated claims. Facebook fact checker Dr. Danielle Anderson will be working hard to ensure theories propagated by fringe scientists such as Dr. Luc Montagnier, will be completely eradicated from the public forum.
Dr. Montagnier is a senile old man who who claims to have discovered HIV IN 1983, as well as winning a Nobel Prize in 2008, but has recently put forward the dangerous and obviously false idea that coronavirus was created in a lab.
This ridiculous conspiracy has continued to gain traction on social media, despite Dr. Montagnierâ€™s complete lack of credentials. All of his scientist friends point and laugh at him. Dr. Anderson, on the other hand, spent years working at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where she was involved in numerous experiments with bat coronaviruses. Her work obviously qualifies her opinion as the final, definitive word on whether or not the virus was created there. She currently works at the NUS Medical School lab at Duke University, Singapore, while also contributing to Facebook, in order to seek out, identify, and destroy with extreme prejudice, any and all articles claiming that COVID-19 may have originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Dr. Anderson says sheâ€™s 90% confident that the virus came from bats in the wet market, prompting ACTJ officials to issue an emergency accreditation.
Oxymoron’s have a long and illustrious position in the American Lexicon, and in the hearts of Americans alike. Itâ€™s a verbal hypocrisy for the American soul that matches the political hypocrisy in our media.
So when you think about it, our love and use of oxymorons makes sense and is â€œseriously funnyâ€ and â€œterribly goodâ€. But here is the â€œBrutal Truthâ€; There is one Oxymoron that threatens the entire fabric of our societyâ€¦ It not only threatens the sacredness of our 1st Amendment, but has a chilling effect on the long standing concept of the presumption of innocence, which was codified by law in America, through the 5th and 14th amendment. Of Course, I am talking about Cancel Culture.
To cancel is to decide, or announce, that a planned event will not take place. Culture is the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group. In other words, it is the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement, regarded collectively.
As infuriating as it is for a child of the 70â€™s to not see the Bushâ€™s, or Clintons, or bank bailout buffoons get â€œcancelledâ€ in the 90s and â€˜00s, it is in the glow of this bitterness that we illuminate this clash of freedom of expression, and the moronic trend sweeping the dark alleys of the internets as cancel culture attempts the fool hearted quest to stop the world from being offended.
Tony Hinchcliffe is a comedian. Heâ€™s had a long-lasting career that has spanned from 2007 until nowâ€¦.and how long it lasts from here depends of how effectively our society can cancel culture. Comedy itself has a hallowed history, has been redefined in the test bed of post world war America, and has become an American gift to the world. It is the forum of using humor, deep thought, and critiques as a way to speak truth to power.
From the days of Lenny Bruce and George Carlin to Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle, modern comedians have had a tendency to piss off the establishment. They have wielded their thoughts as weapons; empowering many audience members in the process. But with this latest descent into cancel culture, these thoughts may soon, in turn, slay these truth â€œwarriorsâ€.
One such moment is upon Mr. Hinchcliffe. He is currently in the headlines for making comments that were in â€œpoor tasteâ€ when taken out of context ,and given little to validate a trait or even an opinion held by Mr. Hinchcliffeâ€¦ When the comments were spoken, he was on stage as a comedian; not in an interview, fomenting hate against our Asian brothers and sisters. But to me, poor taste is turning your back on not only your profession, but also, your colleagues as well.
In the game of comedy, it is a grind; one that most of us are too scared to ever consider engaging, let alone sympathizing with. To put yourself in front of a diverse crowd of people and to be as vulnerable as a human can get, knowing you will be judged, and the only joy comes from making others involuntarily laugh, is daunting to say the least. That spontaneous laughter is the only guiding light for these wayward shamans.
It is not only the grind, but there is a strong sense of seniority, and an appreciation for the older comics by the younger comics. The earned respect, vice versa, is mutual and usually expressed by the line up. It is the 1st form of validation for a young comic when a headliner invites you on the lineup. You have openers, middles, and features who close the show. So when a feature/closer asks a young comic to open, itâ€™s a big deal. So, when speaking of poor taste, Peng Dang oozes with it; which brings us back to May 11th, 2021 in Austin TX.
After a brief set, in which Dang plays to all the low hanging Asian Stereotypes, as well as common digs at Muslims, and our fair skinned brothers and sisters in America, he brings up the feature: Tony Hinchcliffe.
As mentioned before, Tony is an established comic, which usually means he has carved out his audience. They have a relationship. No middlemanâ€¦Just Artist and fans.
As a young comic you get to perform to their audience. Win win for everybodyâ€¦ But Peng decided to become a victim merchant, A victim marketer. He understood the attempt at humor on that comedy stage, and instead of allowing for artistic freedom, he choose to virtue signalâ€¦ and that is in poor taste.
You see, all jokesâ€¦bad and goodâ€¦come from the same birth. While Tonyâ€™s riff of a joke wasnâ€™t the best example of wit and skillâ€¦ it was an obvious joke that dealt with a burgeoning narrative (TM) topic: Asian Hate in America.
Because I am familiar with Mr. Tony Hinchcliffe, I took the joke as a statement on that and kept it moving, but when pressed to condemn as poor taste, I am remindedâ€¦Funny or not, the comedian was being courageous; which is what I demand from comedians.
As our society evolves, this one trend, that started as the punishment for #metoo perpetrators, now threatens to allow the powers that be the ability to cancel any divergent thought, and eliminate some fundamental law concepts that span almost 200 years; all for the promise of not being offended.
In a world where just a few philanthropists could end world hunger for just a small fraction of their wealth, when we gaze at our phones fully understanding the lives of the kids that labor to make that product, and as we march towards global fascism, it may be time to realize being offended is still allowedâ€¦.and welcomed as it usually is, a rock covering up some deep seeded insecurities and misunderstanding of what tolerance actually means
The Armenian Council for Truth in Journalism Adjourns When Brock Willett and I started this show in March of 2020, I donâ€™t think we had any idea what we wanted it to be, or what it would eventually become. The title was born from a random joke that my dad would use when I was a kid. Anytime he was frustrated with opening a bag of plumbing parts or anything else that was tough to get into, he would say that it had been â€œhermetically sealed by the Armenian Medical Associationâ€.
Some of you boomers might make the connection to The Firesign Theatre, a surreal comedy troupe which did wild radio broadcasts throughout the late â€˜60s, but when I co-opted the phrase, and turned it into a smart-ass response to Facebook commenters, who called out my satirical stories on Farmington Tribune for being fake news, my only frame of reference was my father.
After a year and a half of lampooning the media, and making the public spin with our ACTJ verified bull crap, I felt it would only be right for our team to make an honest effort at understanding the country which had become so integral to what we were doing. I filed the paperwork and started Tribune Media International LLC with an ambitious goal of creating a satirical documentary in Armenia. The basic idea was a bit of a reverse Borat approach, where we would lampoon the stupidity of Americans whilst highlighting Armenian culture.
With this goal in mind, Mr. Willett, Vladimir Koshevoy and I went to Armenia in October 2019. We went to â€œseek the Councilâ€. That trip turned into everything it should have been, and nothing we expected. Perhaps Iâ€™ll give a detailed account one of these days, but for now I will just say it was both terrifying and beautiful. The few of you who already know the details, are fully aware. The rest of you will have to wait for the book. But I digress.
We were asked often what we were doing in Armenia. As I would begin to explain how our fake news stories were â€œindependently verified by the Armenian Council for Truth in Journalism, I was consistently unsure of how the joke would be received. Time and again, those in the Caucasus region immediately understood the humor. It was then that I realized the joke was much older than my fatherâ€™s quips, born from The Firesign Theatre.
â€œRadio Yerevanâ€ jokes had been used in the USSR as a way of speaking truth, in an atmosphere of extreme censorship, and totalitarian thought policing. If youâ€™ve never heard one, I highly recommend that you Google it. The point here is that in going to the other side of the world, the joke had come full circle. We had truly found The Armenian Council for Truth in Journalism.
This new found understanding inspired Brock and I to push harder at the idea of documenting the realities of places that remain misunderstood in America. 3 months later, we went to England, Ireland, and Scotland to further perfect our abilities as satirical documentarians. We were preparing for a trip to Ukraine, but life had other plans, and the world was shut down for coronavirus.
With little other option, I somewhat begrudgingly allowed Brock to push me into starting a podcast. I will forever be thankful for his insistence. As the year went on, and the BLM protests began, it seemed only proper for us to take a more concerted approach to being â€œproper journalistsâ€. We recognized the world was changing, and it was obvious that we would need to change with it. Between June and August, the number of guests we had was unreal. The workload consumed me, as we moved from 3 shows per week to broadcasting every day. We were blessed with regular contributors, such as Blake Heckler, Travis Thorpe, Brian Battle, and Dan â€œThe Managerâ€ Sledzinski.
With Jae Shin killing it as our producer, the show began to find itâ€™s sea legs. In between our inebriated rants, and our rapidly changing understanding of the world, some amazing discussions were had. We broke down racial division, coronavirus lies, and the political propaganda. This absurd pace was kept until Brock went to Ireland in August, intent on immigration to the Emerald Isle.
No longer in the same time zone, his ability to co-host was essentially gone.
The show would have surely died, were it not for Thaddeus Preston. His intelligence and analytical perspective of the world was the perfect counter to my anarchist nihilism. He hopped right into the firing line, and has remained dedicated and steadfast for the last 9 months. As we approached the November election, we were all excited to to temporarily wrap, and take a vacation from daily broadcasting. The election special was an absolute mess of old contributors, random miscreants, intelligent debate, and drunken bullshit. When we ended the broadcast, Trump had won the election, and we were all ready to take a break, but much like how the pandemic had derailed my plans to go to Ukraine, the universe had other plans.
The next three months compelled me to travel to various places around the country, documenting the movement to â€œStop The Stealâ€. Iâ€™ve never been comfortable around those who would worship a political figure, but as I found myself imbedded in the heart of MAGA, I found a new understanding of these cultish Trumpers for which I had always had disdain. These were normal, hardworking Americans. They werenâ€™t the racist mouth breathers of mainstream media lore. They were the heart and soul of the American dream, and they were distraught at the notion that their republic was dying. They were willing to speak out, regardless of the derision. The movement was not what I had been told. As I followed the story, I found myself in the streets of DC, live-streaming and documenting the Proud Boys. Once again I was reminded of the lies of the mainstream media, who worked tirelessly to characterize the group as some sort of bastion of fascism and racist hatred. Once again, the reality was much different than the snake oil lies of the establishment press. Nearly every ethnicity was represented by this self-proclaimed â€œdrinking club with a patriotism problemâ€, and I often wondered if they were the last bastion of free men, in a rapidly deteriorating American empire.
As I attempted to highlight reality for my politically diverse following, it became apparent to me that the propagandists were in full control. I watched as some long-time friends turned against me, calling me a fascist, and spewing vitriol for reporting a narrative which didnâ€™t align with their biases. To say it was disturbing is an understatement. It broke my heart to realize that the perspective and consensus I had tried so hard to foster in the previous months, was quickly breaking down in the face of reality. The fallout from January 6 only solidified my understanding that the establishment media, at the whims of the power hungry oligarchs who pull their purse strings, was realizing their ultimate goal of dividing America, and plunging us into civil war. Psychological warfare is a bitch.
So now, nearly 6 months after the events at the Capitol, with press credentials in hand, I can look into the past and see so much for what it truly is. Like taking a hike, through the San Juan Mountains, I can look back at each peak and valley that brought me to this point, fully aware of how painful, or enjoyable each step has been. I can reminisce on those whoâ€™ve walked with me along the way. I can mourn for those who took a different path, perhaps never to be seen again.
It has sometimes been said that life is a series of mistakes, ultimately leading to our death, but when I think about this experiment; this ACTJ, I canâ€™t help but think that a certain amount of divine intervention has been an intimate part of each and every ill-conceived decision. Iâ€™ve walked the path which was laid out before me. Regret is not an option.
As we move this Council into the next iteration, Iâ€™m reminded of the writings of J.R.R Tolkien. Weâ€™ve long compared our struggle to bring truth to a wider audience to the foolâ€™s hope that the ring could be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. Though the odds may be against us, I take heart in the fact the Lou Starski has been there with me since the journey began. He probably thought Iâ€™d forgotten about him, but this hobbit would be nowhere without my own Samwise Gamgee. Good luck finding someone with a better heart.
There is no map for the quest for truth. All we can do is keep moving forward. Determination is required, and the daily destinations are completely unknown.
Like Gandalf once said: â€œIt’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.â€
The Armenian Council for Truth in Journalism adjourns on May 20, 2021 at 10pm EST
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