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JOHN VARGAS

A Mad Man and a Liar

My Words

My words are my own. There are to be used at my own discretion.

I rarely say things without having thought it through rather heavily. The synapses in my brain jumping and arcing incessantly to make sure I don’t say anything stupid. Of course, I have let loose many many stupid utterances, but generally in my youth. Now as I am older, I have become much more careful. Still, once in a while, my mouth doesn’t care what my mind is doing, and stages a revolt. Though, usually I am guarded with my words. Anyone that knows me casually knows this, because I tend to be a rather tacit individual, especially in social settings.

I have decided to change this. I have decided to probably not talk to you unless I know you very well.

I have been quoted in an article. Granted, I was quoted blindly. That is to say, I was not credited with saying my own words. And I have tried to lay it down, to forget it, to get on with my stupid life, and I will. This will serve as a catharsis and an exclamation point to this whole incident.

A few months ago, a few friends of mine and I were meeting at a movie theater to watch a Woody Allen movie. Yeah, I know about the allegations… Now. I will get into this later probably. I say probably because I have no idea where this is going. Now, I love going to the movies. I love great movies in theaters, especially older films. To see them as they actually were intended is always a thrill for me. I’ve been known to watch first run films four or five times before they wither away into blu ray and DVD and occasional revival house limbo, if I love them, which is getting to be more and more of a rarity. I spent a lot of my twenties in movie theaters, especially revival houses, where I could see some of the greatest movies in history on the big screen. The way they were meant to be.

I had never seen “Hannah and Her Sisters,” and was very excited to have my first viewing be in the theater. I drove there after my hateful fucking job, and was looking forward to seeing an old friend and his lady as well as a new friend and enjoying a film from someone I considered a master, and not having to worry about going back to my shitty day job the next day, as I was off. It was going to be a god evening. As I strolled up, I saw my old friend and his lady chatting with another lady whom I know very casually. Soon I realized that she was not there to see the movie but to ask questions of those of us thoughtless enough to see a Woody Allen movie from a bygone era knowing that he had “diddled,” I think was the word used, a child. I couldn’t help but picture a giant finger wagging at me like a disappointed schoolmarm.

Now. Allow me to explain something about me before I go any further… I do not worship celebrity, nor do I generally pay attention to what goes on in their lives, I got enough to worry about: I’m in my forties with a shitty dead end job, no health insurance, and barely enough to make rent and eat. But even in my youth, I didn’t really pay attention to the lives and crimes of celebrity. Back then, I was too busy going to see Tool and Fugazi and Rage Against the Machine, going to movies alone and running with commies trying to foment revolution. Ah, I was so full of myself then, more so even than now, if you can believe it! Nonetheless, I spent most of mental energy on learning about revolution, communism, and working on becoming the greatest filmmaker since Orson Welles. I failed on all these points, but twenty something me could not fucking care less, he was a fighter, and thought you were stupid for caring about pop culture and celebrity. Actually, I still do… Some things will never change.

So, when the allegations of Woody’s horrible crimes were being thrown around like a baseball after a great play, I had no idea. I was too busy getting sprayed in the face with mace, getting destroyed in slam pits, falling in love with the big screen, getting shotguns pointed directly at my face, and having cops fuck me up from time to time. One particular cop try to break both my arms at the same time behind my back. Youth…

By the time I really started to watch Woody’s movies, I honestly had only heard of his relationship with his ex-lover’s adoptive daughter. Believe me, I thought it was weird to say the least. But I know that artists are fucking weirdos and do things most of us would judge as harshly as a republican does a homosexual.

You don’t have to believe me, but this is literally all I knew.

So, after the finger wagging question, I uncharacteristically blurted out something about how most artists are fucking weirdos and do questionable shit. And what would you do with any artist that didn’t live the life you thought was the right one for all? Understand: I thought I was blurting about Soon-Yi, not Dylan!

Understand, also, that I am in a tailspin of emotions about this present incident of resurfacing allegations. I don’t know what to believe. Whether the allegations are true or not, I am heart broken for the victim, whomever that may be. There is no bright side to this situation. Either one of my favorite film makers is a monster, or he is the subject of public intimidation and humiliation. I simply don’t know what to believe. If you know what to believe, without an instant of doubt, I envy you.  If you are able to execute a person based solely on allegations from an apparent victim, I envy your faith, I really do. I envy your faith like I do that of a christian or muslim. You know you’re right. No matter what evidence (or lack thereof) may present itself, you are ready to take any man accused of pedophilia and castrate him with a pair of toenail clippers. Even though you probably weren’t there, you know what happened. Like the early writers of the bible, you know what happened, even though you didn’t witness it. I envy that. I cannot do that, and I know my life would be much easier if I was able to do so.

Justice, as it pertains to accused pedophiles is not “innocent until proven guilty,” it is “you’re guilty, go get raped in prison.” The internet is a harsher judge than Caligula was on his worst day. Thankfully, the internet cannot order torture and crucifixion. Yet.

There are 7 billion people on this planet, and only two of them know for sure what happened, and one of them is lying. Yet, you are sure you know what happened. Whatever side you are on, you know exactly what happened.  This kind of faith is alien to me, for I am a skeptic. My skepticism runs so deep, I’m not even sure I am a skeptic. There is only one thing that I know for sure: I don’t know anything that I don’t know. This is a very elementary and somewhat redundant idea, I know, but I fervently believe it: I know nothing. Not about this.

Oh, and if you are going to lay allegations of “blaming the victim” at my feet, go fuck yourself. You don’t know who I am. You don’t know what I’ve experienced. You don’t know about the dark, cool house across the street in El Monte. You didn’t smell the stale perfume of years of smoking countless cigarettes. You don’t know about the promise of a brand new Hot Wheels car you collected at six years old. You didn’t see the hallway door with chains of discarded peel off beer can tops interlinked into a makeshift door, the soft tinkling noise it made as you were led into the even darker bedroom, the invitation to the bed. The fear. The heat welling up from your neck to your ears. The fucking fear.

You don’t know shit about me. I do.

Also, I’m sure that you deleted and destroyed every single song and album by Michael Jackson, right? I mean, sure he was acquitted and then, oddly, moved to Bahrain where he was out of reach of the american judicial system. But still, I wonder sometimes if odd things were happening at those countless sleepovers where he was practically the only “adult” among several children. I mean, you as a person of extreme faith in everything a victim has said no matter what a jury might say, must know otherwise… Of course you’d never willfully listen to his music nor would you dance to it in a drunken stupor at your friend’s party, right? Or maybe you would. I mean, “Thriller” was such a great album…

It should be noted that I am no fan of MJ, nor have I ever really been. I always found his music annoying.

After the Golden Globes fiasco, I saw that someone had reposted an article by the lady who was asking these questions. Frankly, I was shocked to realize that it was in a publication, not a blog! I honestly thought this was being written strictly for the love of writing and to be shared with a handful of folks. The way this is being written. Evidently, every third comic I know writes for an online publication. I had no idea. Right before this, of course, I realized that the allegations of molestation had resurfaced, or in my world, surfaced for the first time, thanks to the magic of social media. Boy, did I come off as a douche! I was shoveled into a group of assholes who believe that art is the only thing that matters, “art for art’s sake,” and all that. Nazi? Fuck it, art! Rapist? Fuck it, art! Pedophile? ART!

Fucking bullshit.

Remember when I said I was a commie? One of the things I learned is that art either serves the ruling class or it serves the working class. Period. Either you are helping revolution or hindering it with whatever art you create. Both of these ideas are rather extreme, I know. I tend to find myself somewhere not too far away from the commie ideal, and a little further away from the douche bag artist. I would never subscribe to the idea that art is only thing that matters, and fuck it if the artist was a scum bag. I only suggested that if you were to really investigate any of your favorite artists throughout time, you would find some nefarious shit. Does it make you less of person if you still love their art? I guess that’s for you to decide.

Also, remember: I honestly thought I was responding to the weird Soon-Yi situation, not allegations of molestation.

Now, you may be asking the same question I have been asking myself: “Why should you care? You weren’t credited with those words, who would know?”

I do. I know.

I am a comedian. Therefore I own very little. A beautiful 1965 Imperial Le Baron. About 500 CD’s (I am a product of a youth wasted in the 90s, after all) and roughly 250 DVDs and blu rays. Oh, and my words. My. Words.

I don’t write out my jokes, I just know what to say and how to say them. I write down the keywords that remind me what to say. “Immigration” in my notepad reminds me of the joke, not the words. They reside in my mind, among the dizzying electrical impulses between the synapses of my mind. When I release them it is hopefully to bring a modicum of joy and laughter to those unfortunate enough to find themselves sitting before me. Not to be used by anyone else. For any reason. Whether it is to steal a joke (which has happened, and I was oddly more honored than annoyed), or to be used in a article without my permission. Nothing is more precious to me than my ideas and my words.

So if you see me out at a show, I will not say much to you. You may be one of the many that are writing for an online publication and may be asking a seemingly friendly question for a purpose I know nothing about. I will say hello politely, but not much else. I will save my deeper ideas for my close friends. And the stage.

My words are my own. And I will use them with more discretion than ever.

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