I'm very excited to be part of the second Taboo Tales event in New York City on Monday, October 10th. Taboo Tales is the long-running show from Los Angeles where people tell stories about their fucked-up lives. Come out and see us at The PIT on Monday and I guarantee you'll feel better about yourself.
Now, I'll let Taboo Tales tell you more...
We've learned New Yorkers are pretty fucked up so we're putting on our second show on October 10th. It's Columbus Day so tell all your friends to come out and discover this one of a kind storytelling show where we talk about topics no one wants to discuss in public.
Our BRAVE storytellers for this show will be:
Hosted by Vanessa Golenia and Kejal Macdonald
Happening at the PIT theater (24th and Lex)
7pm. Arrive by 6:30pm.
Save some money and get your tickets in advance!
$10 online tickets // $13 at the door
Want to see how much fun we had at the last one? Say no more. Check our event photos.
SEE YOU THERE!
Of course, it was a phone interview, since I'm not legally allowed to travel to Canada. But at least my voice can travel north of the border, even if my body can't.
A big shout-out, by the way, to the excellent writer Michael Libling, who brought me to the attention not only of Mr. Fisher but also of Peter Anthony Holder, who interviewed me last fall for "The Stuph File Program."
Listen to the CJAD interview below:
We talked, of course, about my memoir The Accidental Terrorist, about how humor and religion mix, and about the relative merits of Mormonism and Canada. Peter is a charming host, and I had a great time doing his show. You can hear my 12-minute interview segment below:
Or you can listen to the full episode on Stitcher.
I've always believed that I have a pretty good memoryin particular, that I can recall formative events and conversations from years or even decades ago in reasonably good detail. When I started work on my memoir The Accidental Terrorist, I made a list of incidents, events, and bits of lore from my mission that I wanted to include. The more of these that I wrote down, the more others I started to remember. My notes ran pages and pages and pages.
I'm now working my way through a revision of the book with notes from my editor, Juliet Ulman. The occasional query scrawled in the margin questions details I seem to recall clearly. I've started wondering how much I can trust those old memories, especially the smaller moments I could easily have misremembered or invented. I've started looking for bits I can actually confirm.
Last night I came to the passage below, which seemed like it should be eminently verifiable. The scene is southern Alberta, October 1986:
On Friday of that week, we were talking heavy metal when I mentioned that the only band I liked of that sort was Rush.
"Ah, so you're one of those," said Fowler. "Same as every other missionary in Canada. You know last winter they had a concert scheduled up in Edmonton?"
"That was the Power Windows tour. What a great show. I saw it in Salt Lake."
"Well, I was serving in Edmonton at the time. I swear half the elders in town must've had tickets."
I gaped. In my civilian life, I had the right to choose to see a rock concert if I wanted, whether or not the Church or my father approved. But for a missionary, ordained and set apart as a representative of Jesus Christ, the rules were different. No music, especially not rock music, and especially not live rock music. That was just handing Satan the keys to your soul's front door.
"Including you?" I asked.
"Naw, Rush ain't my thing. But anyways, the day of the show this massive blizzard hits. No joke. Shuts everything down. No planes in or out. Concert canceled."
"You're telling me. You think God wanted all those missionaries rocking out in clouds of dope smoke? No way. It would have killed the Spirit dead in Edmonton for a month."
I've told this story many times, in many ways. This particular version was written for The First Time: First Crime, an evening of readings at Second City's Up Comedy Club in Chicago on April 17, 2013. I read it again at Tuesday Funk #61 on September 3, 2013, and later posted it as an answer on Quora (to the question "What are you banned from? Why?") and as an essay on Medium (where it became an Editor's Pick). As long as it was available for free in those places, I figured it ought to have a home here too. So here it is. Happy Canada Day.
They caught up with me in the men's room of a bus station in Great Falls, Montana.
Now, the fact that "they" were after me might lead you to presume that I was running from the law, that the cops or other authorities were hot on my trail, but that's not the case. My felony was still two months in the future at that point, though I was on the lam.
I was on the lam from the Mormon Church.
The great folks at Essay Fiesta have posted video of the memoir excerpt I read for them at the Book Cellar on April 19th. This is a segment from The Accidental Terrorist called "Gluttons for Punishment":
(Damn, that was over my time limit. Thank God I didn't exceed the YouTube limit of ten minutes.)
Essay Fiesta is a monthly reading series that benefits the Howard Brown Health Center, hosted by Keith Ecker and Alyson Lyon. Please come out to the Book Cellar in Chicago on the third Monday of every month to support the series.
I can't help myself. I have to share a couple more tidbits on the topic of health care. First is Johann Hari of The Independent, who takes the American right wing to damning task in yesterday's "Republicans, Religion and the Triumph of Unreason." Here are two of the almost amusing bits from a not-really-very-amusing article:
These increasingly frenzied claims have become so detached from reality that they often seem like black comedy. The right-wing magazine US Investors' Daily claimed that if Stephen Hawking had been British, he would have been allowed to die at birth by its "socialist" healthcare system. Hawking responded with a polite cough that he is British, and "I wouldn't be here without the NHS"...And Diane Francis at The Huffington Post makes the case that "LBJ Created Canada's Superior Health Care System":
For many of the people at the top of the party, this is merely cynical manipulation. One of Bush's former advisers, David Kuo, has said the President and Karl Rove would mock evangelicals as "nuts" as soon as they left the Oval Office. But the ordinary Republican base believe this stuff. They are being tricked into opposing their own interests through false fears and invented demons. Last week, one of the Republicans sent to disrupt a healthcare town hall started a fight and was injuredand then complained he had no health insurance. I didn't laugh; I wanted to weep. [full article]
As the health care establishment appears to be once again able to block any reasonable changes to America's sick health care system, it's important to note that, ironically, the "father" of Canada's universal, single-payer health care system was late President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1964, his plan caused Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson to rush the same health care scheme into existence so that Ottawa was not beaten by the Americans, as was the case in 1934 with Social Security. As things turned out, LBJ compromised with the Republicans and scaled back his plan to a co-payer insurance for senior citizens, or Medicare. So it's hardly surprising that, again, a popular President cannot win out against the nasty tactics and enormous wealth of the medical vested interests.
Every time I hear someone on the radio going on about how there's nothing wrong with the American health care system, I get so mad I can't see straight. I always wonder out loud what that person would say if he lost his job and his health insurance, or if she suddenly couldn't get coverage for a life-threatening disease because of some innocuous "pre-existing condition."
I have pretty good health coverage, but that's only because my wife has a good job. I don't want to think about what would happen if she lost her job. COBRA coverage would be available for 18 months, of course, but it's as expensive as half a month's rent. And even with our coverage, it's a tremendous pain in the ass to negotiate the thicket of requirements you have to go through in order to consult a specialist, which both Laura and I are currently doing.
In fact, yesterday I had to cancel a long-standing appointment I was supposed to have this afternoon with the urologist I've been seeing (in a professional sense, not the sense of having an affair with, although he's cute in a reassuring-older-guy kinda way) this year. Why? Because Laura's insurance just changed to a new company, and my procedure would not be covered unless I could get a referral form from my primary-care physician, but that office wouldn't cough up the form because we haven't received our new insurance cards yet....
Fortunately it's not an urgent procedure, but if it had been I would be, to put it crudely, fucked. I can reschedule for a couple of months from now, but how much easier and more sensible would this all have been under a single-payer system? I don't know how anyone with serious health problems manages.
I've mentioned here before, I think, that I'm in the process of applying for a pardon from Canada for my mischief conviction of almost 22 years ago. Really, "in the process" is perhaps putting it too strongly. I'm hung up on one particular step in the process, which is heading down to my local police station to be fingerprinted. I keep finding excuses to put this offor not even bothering to find excuses. Maybe this isn't surprising, given the way my back prickleseven today, when I haven't done anythingevery time I'm out walking and a police car cruises slowly past me.
I have to get over, though, if there's any prayer of making it to Montreal next year for Worldcon.