A recurring series.
September 3, 2005
State Rep. Daylin Leach permanently shut down his Web site after his humor columns were criticized by some readers as insensitive and racy.
In a brief letter posted Friday on his Web site, the Montgomery County Democrat apologized to anyone he may have offended and said the site was being pulled.
“This has been a learning experience for me – I have a much better understanding that, while I believe comedy is for all people, not all comedy is for every person,” the posting stated.
In the posting, Leach offered a “sincere apology” and added that “the last thing I want, as a person and as a representative, is to cause offense.”
Some of Daylin’s writings on the site – http://www.leachvent.com – veered into musings colored by references to pornography or sex. Others included comments about Palestinians and a “third world type” who cleans hotel rooms.
The writings, often signed Dutch Larooo, attracted the ire of Arab and anti-discrimination groups. The Anti-Defamation League in Philadelphia called some of Leach’s writings offensive and complained that they reinforced negative stereotypes.
The Web site began from a series of humor columns Daylin e-mailed to friends and acquaintances.
August 8, 2005
Regular readers of the VENT will soon notice that I’ve gotten much smarter. Although admittedly the bar was set fairly low with such previous VENTs as “I’m Locked in my Car,” “W=Genius,” or “Dem Fractions is Hard!”
But now my intellectual prowess will be obvious. Let me give you some examples. First, I could count fairly high before. But I can count really, really high now. Also, if you ask me to define “existentialism,” I’ll say “no problem,”–or better yet, “no problemo” because everyone knows that “problemo” is much more sophisticated. You may never actually get that definition of existentialism, but my deft use of words such as “problemo” and “Okie-Dokie” will blow your mind.
Want more proof? OK. Do you remember those SAT word analogy questions? Well I can answer them now! For example, take the question “Joseph Stalin is to the Black Death as the Partridge Family is to ______ ??” Well I know the answer to that now (no problemo!). I think you see what I mean.
The genesis (big word! Ahhh!) of this change was the 3 weeks I just spent at a government-studies seminar at Harvard University (the Harvard you heard of, not that other one). Yes, it’s true. I was honored to stroll the same historic paths that John Adams strolled. I supped in the eateries where John Updike supped. I drank a bottle of cheap whiskey and passed out in a puddle of my own urine in the same alleys where George W. Bush drank cheap whiskey and passed out in a puddle of urine. It was heady stuff.
Over the next several VENTS I will share my experiences with you, my loyal reader. I don’t usually do multi-part VENTS, although my last series, “Shaving my Back, Parts 1-8″ was surprisingly popular. However, I do think that both the depth of this particular experience, and my total lack of any other ideas merits a more lengthy exposition (another big word! And did you dig my use of the word “Supped”? I’m not even sure that’s a real word!)
Day 1 – The First Day
= I arrive on campus. I admire the ivy-covered walls. I learn it’s not really Ivy. It’s poison sumac. But somehow the school couldn’t sell parents on bragging that their kids were attending a “Sumac League” school. Many of the buildings have inspirational sayings carved over the doors, such as “Live, Learn, Prosper” (over the science library) or “Eat, Binge, Gluttonize” (over the local Sbarro). It reminded me of what my old Rabbi used to tell me to inspire me: “Daylin, the purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others.”
= I review the curriculum. The first thing I notice is that there are none of the frivolous electives that were offered at my college, where I spent whole semesters studying “The History of Hack-e-Sack” or “The Roll of Fondue in the Civil War” (turns out it was limited). Of course, my college is no longer technically a college. It’s evolved into more of a bar and grill. Great nachos though!
Day 2 – The First Day no Longer
I show up to my first class, where we were supposed to be studying the roll of an elected representative. I was a little confused at first by the professor, who kept talking about “Avogadro’s Constant” and “Newton’s third law of motion.” It wasn’t until mid-afternoon that I realized that I had messed up the directions and wound up in a physics class by mistake. I didn’t learn much about government, although I did manage to write an excellent paper on why a Black Hole would be a great place to send Ralph Nader.
At this point (or long ago) you might be wondering how I got into a very competitive Harvard program. Well, I knew how impressed admissions officers are by interesting extra-curricular activities. So when I filled out the application, I made sure to mention several things, including:
= My long-term marriage to chef Julia Child
= My years playing bass for The Clash in the 70’s
= The fact that I invented subtraction
= The Pulitzer Prize I won for my rebuttal of Einstein’s theory of
relativity, called “E=MC2 My Ass!”
When I arrived at the seminar, the admissions officer did seem slightly disappointed that I didn’t bring a copy of my book. He also seemed surprised that I didn’t really look like a full-blooded Mohican Indian.
Day 3 – A Different Day Entirely
Each day we had about 60-80 pages of reading to do prior to our classes. In college I was a slacker. I read the entire assignment for, like, the first week. By the second week, I was skimming. By the the second month I was just smearing the papers on my chest and chanting “Smile on me Gods of Osmosis.” This led to me often being unprepared and answering every question the professor would pose by wailing “Oh, the humanity!!” which worked Ok in History class, but not so much in “Botany” or “Human Sexuality.”
Finally, I arrived in the correct class and prepared to learn. I wondered if these Harvard Professors were all they were cracked up to be. I expected these avatars of brilliance to question and probe me. I hoped they were able to overlook how hot I am. I was not in the mood to be ogled like a piece of meat yet again. Although, I’ve gotten over that part and I am now, once again, prepared to be ogled like a piece of meat…preferably mutton.
Next VENT, Class begins…
June 14, 2005
I’ve never been a fast runner. In fact, do you remember how every elementary school has some kid who is so slow and pathetic that all the other kids beat him up. Well, in my school, that kid beat me up. Now he is an investment banker, married to a Sports Illustrated Swmisuit Model. While he still beats me, he now also gives me excellent stock tips!
As a result of my sloth-like running abilities I was teased constantly and called such cruel, heartless names as “slow-guy” or “guy-who-is slow” (it was a public high school). But as bad as I was at speed, distance was worse. In college the 100 yard dash became known as “Daylin’s Marathon.” I couldn’t run to the phone without someone playing the theme to Chariots of Fire.
I had one gym teacher who tried to help, but I just wasn’t motivated and I’d deviate from his workout routines. He’d tell me to do 100 sit ups before bed and I’d rent a “Prison Chicks” movie. He’d tell me to run a mile and I’d eat a bucket of macaroons. Once, to prove how slow I was, he challanged me to a 200 yard race. To make the point, he chained himself to a 5,000 pound concrete slab. I hope he expected someone other than me to set him free or he may still be there.
All of this makes it so incomprehensible that I completed the 10 mile Broad Street Run a couple of weeks ago. My training consisted of running through the streets of certain rural neighborhoods near the capital wearing a “Leave the Sheep Alone!” T-shirt. I thought being chased would motivate me to keep running.
On race day, I joined 14,000 other people at the starting line. I wound up near the front standing next to a guy from Kenya. My Swahili is a little rusty (although it wouldn’t have mattered since they don’t actually speak Swahili in Kenya) but I tried to say hello. Unfortunately, what I said apparently translated into my new friend’s native language not as “Hello,” but as “Your thighs are like tasty tulips.” After a few awkward moments involving mace, we were off.
I wanted to chat as I ran, but my Kenyan friend immediately started running far faster than me. My efforts to sprint to catch up weren’t very effective, nor were my shouts of “Hey, get back here!” Eventually I did find someone to run with. His name was Tommy:
Do you run a lot Tommy?
Where ya from?
The house right there behind me.
Wow, That’s strange–me asking you where you
lived right as we run past your house. Is that a coincidence or what?
I’m not running. I’m just standing here waiting
for a bus.
Oh Jeez. I better get going then.
But I soon found my groove. By mile 4 I had stopped trying to hail a cab. By mile 5 I was whipping past traffic signs and fire hydrants left and right like they were standing still. At mile 7, I actually passed another racer. Although I must admit that he was in his nineties, and was probably slowed down by the fact that he was receiving CPR.
By mile 8 I hit the zone, or the “runners high,” which I had only felt once before, during a trip to Jamaica. And let’s just say that experience didn’t involve a lot of running, but did involve a 2 pound bag of sour cream and onion potato chips. By mile 9 I started having these giddy, utopian dreams of a perfect world.
Specifically, I dreamt:
….of a world where each day would be filled with love and sunshine and blue skies, except my old boss’ birthday, during which there would be a blizzard, because I hate him.
….of a world where our president could read “Hamlet;” at least the word, if not the whole play.
….of a world where Celine Dion was a mime, as God intended.
….of a world where no one gave anyone a fruitcake for Christmas, because who the %*&#@% wants that?
….of a world where every Starbucks also served Whiskey–cheap, 24 hours a day–to absolutely anybody.
….of a world where back-bench state legislators had scads of underwear-tossing groupies, and Mick Jagger had to go to the Shriner’s dinner and wear the funny hats.
….of a world where each year we could expect a new album, not just from Herb, but from Peaches too.
Finally, it was over. I didn’t win the race. It turns out my Kenyan friend did. In fact, by the time I crossed the finish line he had driven to the airport, flown back to Kenya, and overthrown the government in a violent Coup d’etat. But his band of rebels did call their movement the “Tasty Tulip-Thigh Revolution,” which I claim some credit for.
Now that I have accomplished this amazing feat, nothing can stop me. I am going to work to do all sorts of things I never could before. In fact, right now I’m in intensive training to pay a credit card bill on time. Wish me luck.
May 31, 2005
This is just a short Vent to plug something my dear friend and physical clone Linda Swain has coming up. She is performing on Channel 6 during the 4th of July Parade at 7:15-7:30 P.M. You see, Linda is a singer–unlike me, who has a bad voice; or Celine Dion, who has a voice like a thousand rabid monkeys trapped in a cement mixer. Maybe not everyone is familiar with that sound, but it’s not…well…it’s not a good one.
Linda wrote the new theme song for Philadelphia. It replaces the old theme song “My City Sucks” written in 1854 by Irving Berlin, almost 40 years before he was born! A lot of people don’t know it, but Linda originally asked me to give her some ideas for lyrics. On the first day she called me, I was tired and unmotivated. I suggested just singing “Philly – Yeah!” over and over again. When she hinted that she was looking for a slightly more sophisticated song, I e-mailed her a list of several ways in which Philadelphia leads the nation. However, Linda said she wanted to go in a different direction. Plus, she said, it’s hard to find words that rhyme with chlamydia.
I also suggested that we perform as a duet. I called her just last week about it:
Oh, it’s you Daylin. Look, I decided not to
No, No. I have a new idea. We should do a
You mean at the same time?
Absolutely! We could do it one of several
ways. For example, while you’re singing
about how Philly stands for freedom, I could
be right behind you going “Don’t diss me or
I cut you.” You know, to give it that edge.
Um…I gotta go.
If you don’t like that, we could just do
a little Sonny and Cher number that’s
Philly specific. You know, like:
“We got violence and we got hate,
We’ve got the highest murder rate
When the cops throw me in jail
I got you to make my bail!”
Listen, I really gotta take off. My hair’s on
fire, and the mailman’s here.
Please don’t feel that I am singling out Linda for special treatment. If anyone else has a major life event coming up, please let me know and this space is yours. Whether it’s a singing debut or a custody hearing, whether your wife is arranging a surprise party, or your friends are arranging an intervention, whether you are hosting a bake sale for your glee club, or a pig roast for NAMBLA, I will be happy to publicize it.
So watch Linda on Wednesday night. She is not only a great singer, but a beautiful woman. And although her breasts (ordered from Sharper Image) are still pending, the rest of her is completely natural. So good luck Linda, and remember, one of the best things to rhyme with “Soar” is my office phone number: (610)-668-7964. See if you can work it in.
May 26, 2005
I went to a Briss today. For those unfamiliar with Jewish tradition, a Briss is where a bunch of Jews get together, eat bagels and lop off a good portion of a kid’s penis. The bagels today were excellent: soft, chewy, topped with tasty accouterments such as onions, sesame seeds, and Rogaine (*many deli products are now fortified for hair growth). The fish was soft and flaky (like Tipper Gore) and the apple cake was to die for.
But getting back to the penis: surprisingly to some, I’m no biblical expert. But I believe that command for circumcision comes from the book of “Occupations” (in between the book of “Theselonians” and “Investing for Dummies”). In chapter 2 verse 7-10, God sets fourth the 4 eternal curses of the Jewish people. Here, verbatim, is what God said (I’m paraphrasing):
“I am the lord thy God. Draw nigh, as I spaeketh this day. If
thoust doesth not draw nigh, I shall take cudgel in hand
and smite thee. If I do not have a cudgel, I may take a
septor, or a large bat. Not like “bat” the bird, cause that
probably wouldn’t do the tricketh. But “bat” like the big
stick. Yeah, that’d hurt!
And don’t think I wouldn’t smite thee. I’ve smote many
before. I smote the army of Pharaoh. And once, this guy,
he disobeyed me before the rock of Jilalabad. And ya
know what I did? …Yeah, that’s right… I smote him!!
Anyway, for what purpose did I bid you draw nigh? Oh yeah.
I remember now. The Jewish people are my chosen people.
Specifically, these are the people I’ve chosen to mess with.
Thusly, you shall endure four eternal curses to your name.
1) eternal persecution throughout the world
2) a homeland surrounded by insane enemies
3) Neil Diamond
4) Every newborn Jewish boy shall have a good portion of
his schmeckle lopped off, then yee shall eat bagels.
The first thing you need for a successful Briss is a male child. The gender of the child should be unambiguous. None of this Jamie Lee Curtis stuff. Then you need a good moil. A moil is the guy who actually does the cutting. Now, there are many moils in the phone book, so how does one tell if one has a good moil? Well, first, I’d stay away from the “Discount Moil” ads. Your son will someday thank you for splurging on a moil who has both done it before, and does not moonlight as a Giant Cymbal player.
Also avoid moils with nicknames. I’m sure Ricky “Crazy Fingers” Goldstein, and Moshe “The Hatchet” Rabinowitz are nice guys, but I wouldn’t let them near my son’s package. The exception to this rule is American Indians. There may not be all that many Cherokee or Kikkapoo moils, but the few there are may be considered because their nicknames are so explicit. So for example, you may want to hire “Chief Clean Cut Eagle Eye,” but avoid “Geronomo Cut, Oops, Dick Be Gone.”
When the actual service started, I jostled for a good seat. Some people can’t eat during the actual circumcision, but that’s never been a problem for me. Although the baby’s Aunt Marge did get a little pissy when I offered her a gerken during the procedure. How was I to know she didn’t like small pickles? The moil seemed confident. He said reassuringly, “I could do this blindfolded.” Although he didn’t take me up on my offer when I shouted, “50 Bucks says you can’t!” And of course, Auntie Marge got all pissy yet again. There’s no pleasing some people. You should have seen her face when I turned out the lights during the cut! (Of course, you couldn’t have, because the lights were out.)
The actual lopping was very dramatic. I felt it called for a real-time narrative, which I gave in my best Phil Rizzuto voice. Since most people couldn’t see, I was their only source of information as to what was going on.
OK, here we are. The moil has finished his last shot of
Gin and we’re ready to go. He’s taken out his pocket
knife. Oh boy, that thing looks as dull as a dime! He’s
putting it in the general vicinity of the boy’s foreskin, if
you consider the left testicle the general vicinity. Boy, I
never knew a human hand could shake that much. The
moil’s aiming…he’s aiming….he’s lunging…he’s lunging…
HEY! Aunt Marge, what the hell….let go of my throat. I
wasn’t finished!!….can I at least get my BAGEL??
Alas, I never got to finish my report.
I think these traditions are good. Although I tend more towards the ones that involve giving a fruitcake and away from those that involve chopping off a sensitive body part. But if I ever have a son, I will probably do the same thing. Although I may do the moiling my self, just to be sure.
May 25, 2005
People think bachelor parties are an American tradition, as American as apple pie, or racial profiling. However, as I understand it, bachelor parties are actually a worldwide tradition, with each culture adding its own unique stamp to the ritual. In America, there is the nudie bar. But in France there is a large picnic, and each man tells some heroic story about how they lost a battle against a much weaker country.
In Germany, the sound of frying knockwurst and goose-stepping fills the air. The Palestinians like to welcome the bachelor to marital bliss by holding him up in the air and cheering, then strapping several pounds of dynamite to his chest and having him blow up a school bus (the groomsmen all chip in for the dynamite). Palestinian women are troubled by their future husband being splattered all over the ground, but grateful that he wasn’t exposed to any naked women. In perhaps the most elaborate bachelor party ritual, the young men of Bator gather their friends together, then run off and have sex with hundreds of other women for 60 years or so, then die of old age.
This weekend I partook in the American version of this ritual. My cousin Sefton is soon to pledge his troth (I’m not actually sure what a “troth” is, but I think its related to his 401k) to the stunning Ms. Amy Leavitt. As the best man, I originally came up with the itinerary for the day. As I originally conceived it, the day would start with some “Sweatin to the Oldies” with Richard Simmons. Then we would shop for muffs (they’re cheap this time of year!), take in a Barbara Streisand Tribute Show, and finally, all bake muffins. However, after some feedback from the other guys (including death threats), we changed things around a bit.
First we went to a Mets game. I haven’t been to a baseball game in a while, but I soon realized that there are some things more exciting than baseball, like counting your teeth for example, or watching a tape of “Battlefield Earth” which is stuck on “pause.” By the second inning, people were hoping for a home run; by the third, for a meteor. In the bottom of the fifth, two umpires hung themselves after Red Sox third string catcher Pepito Laroca fouled off 177 consecutive pitches. When the seventh inning stretch came, I couldn’t stand because my buttocks had turned to coal. Finally the Mets won in the 12th after the entire Red Sox infield had set themselves on fire and Tito O’Reily bunted for an inside-the-park home run.
After the game, all 25 party invitees met up at Tuscan’s steak house for dinner. The food was great, and the toasts were amusing. However, Amy’s father was there, and we were given strict instructions by Sefton to avoid, at all costs, the following topics:
* Drug use of any kind by anybody
* Previous girlfriends (inflatable and non-inflatable)
* Cross-Gender “mistakes”
* Bar Mitzvah Sex
* Other guys named “Sefton” who may have been arrested for public nudity
After dinner, we went to the obligatory strip club. It was called “Tens” ostensibly because every woman working there was a “10.” And the women were strikingly gorgeous (if you like that sort of thing). However, I think the club was actually named “Tens” because of what you were expected to tip every person you encountered all evening. When we first arrived, we were greeted by Tim, a large, muscular man in a tuxedo. He explained he was the “exterior door man” and that he accepted tips. When we tipped Tim and entered the club we met Harvey. He was apparently the “interior door man” and was also kind enough to accept tips.
Harvey then handed us off to Otis, who was our host. Up until last night, I was unaware of what a host at a strip club does. But now I know that he points in the general direction of a bunch of tables, some of which have empty seats you can sit at if you wish. For this, Otis requires what he called “a special tip.”
Soon a waitress arrived. She was wearing a sequined G string and two seashells on her chest (just like Mom used to wear), and explained that if we would be kind enough to tip her, she would be kind enough to take our drink order. I asked if we could tip her when she brought the drinks. She explained patiently that another person would actually be bringing the drinks. That would be our “server,” and she likes “GIMONDO Tips.” I ordered a screwdriver and turned over the required $10 to ensure the bartender would actually put Vodka into it. I then went to the bathroom, outside of which I encountered Phil. We chatted briefly:
Hi. I’m Phil
I accept tips.
I thought you might. What is it you do?
I’m the tornado warner.
The tornado warner?
I warn people going into the men’s room
if a tornado is coming.
Is that a big problem here?
Not so far.
What about people going into the ladies room?
Do they get warned too?
Oh sure, Todd does that. He takes tips too.
I thought he might.
Of course none of this counts the actual strippers. Whenever Jasmine, Cocoa, Lolita, Puka-Puka or Clitoris (it’s amazing how all the women with exotic names wind up working for strip clubs) came near you, you had to tip them to sit, to dance, to stop dancing, to leave, and to never tell you about their plans for medical school again.
Finally, after I had run out of cash, and actually given Puka-Puka my gold card, I was forced to leave. I ran into a drunk guy walking down the street outside. He threw up on my shoes. I tipped him. But don’t let my cynical ramblings fool you. I was thrilled and proud to have been part of Sefton’s (my brother by another mother!!) big bash. And I can always bake muffins myself.