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May 27, 2020 Poetry

Joe Rogan

Elizabeth Ellen

Joe Rogan photo

                                 

                                               for David Letterman

 

I was walking and listening to Joe Rogan again

All I did now was walk and listen to Joe Rogan

 

It reminded me of the early 90s

When all I did was smoke cigarettes and watch David Letterman

 

I didn’t know how I would have gotten through my early 20s

            w/out Letterman (read: Late Night) (read: Kool unfiltereds)

I was a shut in then, too (anxious, panic attack prone, depressed)

 

I felt similarly now

How would I get through Covid-19 without Joe Rogan?

 

Luckily, I didn’t have to

 

Every day it seemed there was a new Joe Rogan podcast

 

And almost every day the new podcast

            Featured a scientist!

 

I liked listening to scientists (now)

            They soothed and calmed me

 

Their quiet rational voices

            All their knowledge coming out so quietly and calmly

            Like a Mr. Rogers’ conversation with the camera while putting on or taking off his shoes

 

I felt calmed as I did when I was five and watching Mr. Rogers in my grandmother’s living room

I envisioned these scientists wearing cardigans like Fred also

 

Mostly I liked listening to Rogan (now)

            Because it was the only place I heard anyone talking about

            Civil liberties (abt the potential loss of them, I mean)

 

No one I knew seemed at all concerned about them

            Everyone I knew seemed happily ‘asleep’ watching Netflix shows

            With their families

 

(Netflix is the opiate of the people!)

 

I thought, “You know, you could have enforced family time before Covid-19;

            You could have made your kids eat dinner with you, help you cook,

            Watch content with you without the aid of a pandemic as an excuse or a reason.”

 

People with families didn’t understand there were people without

            People who were alone, lonely, depressed

            Suicidal; what did they care as long as they had their

            Families, and Netflix?

 

What did they care about the loss of civil liberties

            When there were so many new shows on Netflix

            And they could order their groceries now for pick up

            When they could feel safer than they’ve ever felt

            Locked inside their houses with their computers and their children and their Clorox

           

It reminded me of people who wanted there to be a wall built

            Between the U.S. and Mexico

            Safety was the issue there too,

            Wasn’t it?

            Fear of others

            How could we know whom to fear?

            Mexicans or an Amazon delivery person or an old friend come to visit…

            Anyone not us could be dangerous -

            How could we know?

            Best to lock down with our families and watch Netflix

            While we all lose our civil liberties

            And our friends without families grow more and more depressed

            Who cares about silly things like personal freedoms and suicidal depression

            When THE VIRUS might get us?

 

Sometimes I listened to other podcasts

I listened to Katie Couric, too, sometimes

 

Katie had on a man who was a former surgeon general

            Under Obama

The former Obama surgeon general had made loneliness

            His platform, after touring the country and discovering ppl were lonely

            (who knew?!)

Loneliness, he found, was the reason for so much suffering:

            Opioid addiction, alcoholism, mass shootings, … you name it

            The common denominator: people were lonely

 

I listened to the former surgeon general talk about loneliness and then I listened to

a new Joe Rogan podcast

 

I was extending my walks now

I was walking farther than I ever had just so I could keep listening

It was good to hear someone else (read: not me) talk

(read: I was lonely)

 

The person Joe Rogan was talking to was another scientist

            (Of course!)

the scientists were all running together in my head now:

there was the one who brought his guitar and sang a song he’d written

            about war and grandfathers and love

there was the one who wore a mask on the show

            to promote wearing masks

(oh, maybe that was the same scientist, who did both of those things,

come to think of it; maybe they were all the same scientist! Maybe I was going crazy

like the lady who thought Letterman was talking directly to her every night

through her television set)

 

I didn’t think Joe Rogan was speaking directly to me

            Through my earbuds

I didn’t have dreams about him, either, as I had Letterman

            In the early 90s

            (read: I didn’t think he was sexy)

            (Letterman had been so sexy!)

 

He was just someone to listen to

            Who had a sense of humor

I decided I’d chosen the wrong profession

            I decided I should have been a comedian

            So I could hang out with other comedians,

            So everything would be funny (even the loss of civil liberties!)

            Instead of self-accusatory and self-loathing and self-vilifying

 

I wondered if it were too late

            To start a whole new career

            To ‘build a set’

I wondered how long it would take me to get on Joe Rogan

            If I started writing my set now

            If I practiced and practiced

            While locked down under quarantine

            While locked out of my best friend’s house

 

eventually, as always happens, I had to stop walking (at some point)

I went back to my garage, took off my boots and winter jacket (it was snowing in april!)

And went inside.

 

I stood in front of my mirror

            I had a whole bit already worked out about dolphins being rapists

            And preteen girls having posters of dolphins on their bedroom walls

surrounded by hearts and rainbows and smiley faces

            becuz they didn’t know about the dolphins

            And their raping.

But I knew, cuz I used to listen to NPR

            And one morning a young female scientist had talked about dolphins

            How a male dolphin or group of male dolphins would sidle up to a female dolphin

            Kidnap her, swim her away from the group (pod?)

            Even if she had a kid (name for dolphin infant?)

            They’d just bring her kid along too

            When they swam her away and raped her

 

This was something I’d learned on NPR

Back before I listened to Joe Rogan

I’d listened to scientists, then, too

 

Maybe I just really had a thing for scientists

            I wondered if it were too late

            To start a whole new career

I was always wondering things like this

            But then I was always just a writer

            Same shit, different day [SAMO!].

            Virus or no virus:

            It was always the same. (read: I was always the same)

 

I wasn’t ever going to be on Joe Rogan or NPR

I was always going to be lonely because I didn’t know how not to be

            An asshole.

It was the one thing I was really good at

            So maybe I could be a comedian, after all. 

I got out a pen and started working on my dolphin material

            Started working on my life-as-an-asshole material.

            Started working.

 

I got so busy I forgot to wash my hands

            Forgot to buy Clorox wipes

            Forgot to check how many deaths there’d been in my state in the past 24 hours.

 

I was going to be a comedian now

            If only in my own house, in my basement

            Like Robert De Niro’s character in The King of Comedy

            Like a guy I heard abt once on NPR who had a whole late night set in his living room

 

I would interview scientists in my garage

I would interview aged rock stars and aged actresses and most of the other ageds

I was going to have my own channel on YouTube

I was going to talk about how I was censored and blacklisted and a free thinker!

 

I was going to be delusional now on top of being an asshole

It was going to be so great! I was about to be so great!

I had extended my dolphin-rapist bit by thirty seconds -

I was going to be so great.

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