AN OLD SHIPMATE ASKED FOR MY THOUGHTS ON THE NAVY YARD SHOOTING

Jhony Wonder my old friend, Navy shipmate & brother in making sure people have smiles. You had to call me out! SOB! OK… Damn! Since you called me out! There are so many variables that lead up to these instances. Weapon access, mental illness, drugs, political views, economy, isolation, laws… I mean it’s like the old pictures/movie of telephone operators with a billion plugs and lines in front of them.

I will just say this coming from someone who has not been directly affected… I worked in the White House and Camp David when Oklahoma City bombing occurred. I witnessed 1st hand the shutting down of Pennsylvania Ave (since) as a result of that horrible act. I watched the way security changed as a result… it got much much tighter. You were Yankee White (very high) clearance or vetted to get on the grounds. Before that I think you could have walked up and said “I’d like to see the President,” and got in.

While I was there a guy got off 29 shots at the White House in October 1994 from Penn Ave w/ an SKS. A man also crashed a plane into the White House that same year… they said it was a dramatic suicide and he had a history of alcohol and drug problems, I was also there when they shot and killed a homeless man brandishing a knife, and then when a guy scaled the W.H. fence w/a 38 revolver (who studied for a doctorate in psychology) and was shot in the arm and the bullet bounce off his bone hitting a secret service agent. These all took place in the couple years I was at The White House.

I also worked security at The Holocaust museum at the same time. No metal detectors were in place when I was there. A month did not go by without some B.S. going down. I had to pretty much drag a disrespectful skinhead out of the reflecting room with some guys once… then in 2009 a museum police officer was shot and killed at the Holocaust museum.

I also grew up very close to Newtown, CT. I was glued to the news and my Facebook wall every moment of that day. It affected my community directly. Teachers left the school my mother worked in to see if their kids attending Newtown where ok, I read posts on my Facebook wall between friends updating how families I know were, my sister saw old schoolmates of ours on TV… fortunately no friends of mine lost anyone. But… I wrestled Newtown kids as a kid myself; I dated a girl from there… I went to the movie theatre there.

I go into movie theaters almost weekly. Shootings took place there as well now… they also took place in Post offices, Fast Food restaurants, hair salons, beer distributers…. stabbings occurred in parks (a lot in my home of NY growing up), parking lots… they found a bomb in my hometown local mall sometime in the mid 90’s and brought it to a airport runway and it f*cking blew up! The Olympics in Atlanta (Which at the time I was going to work at but my girlfriend insisted I stay in NY because she had a very bad feeling… she begged me. True story… that gal broke my heart but might have saved my life).

These are just horrible occurrences that come to mind that I felt close to in a way… myself directly have been very fortunate. Although over the years I have directly seen and feel the results of every war that has taken place since I’ve been on this earth. That is another conversation.

When I was a child I remember a little boy who went missing in Florida named “Adam Walsh“… my last name is Walsh… I never had a brother and his father looked just like mine. I as a kid watched what story unfold everyday… he was found dead. There was no happy ending. A kid who looked like me, same last name was gone… no reason really… just evil. His father went on obviously to do amazing things. I think… since you asked.

I think that’s the very best thing we can do. Go on to try and to get/do things better in our own yard. With our kids, friends and communities. Politics always comes down to money… make no mistake about that. It’s always about the dollar! My father taught me that! But on the level we function. We shake each other’s hands, give a needed hug, lend an ear. This stuff has always been happening. Bad people will always exist.

Presently we have a billion times more communication, voices and vocal opinions. The media has never been responsible. The phrase “If it bleeds it leads” was not created recently. Now we have 24 hour news channels competing with each other, newspapers competing with online bloggers, bloggers, Vines, Facebook updates, tweets… which EVERYONE can access and EVERYONE can put an opinion into motion, sensationalize and find enough people out there to agree with them.

I am a comedian… I always say, “If I can get just 1% of this country to be a fan of me… I would be set for life” Just 1%! I have performed in every venue imaginable… coffee house, youth hostels, comedy clubs, theaters, arenas, flat beds in war zones … even on stage in Iraq with incoming… in the back of my mind I have this voice saying… “Progression”… it’s only a matter of time until a gun, bomb or knife enters a comedy club or venue… because post offices, fast food joints, movie theaters, schools, malls and work places have been done.

Evil has always been here and evil will always progress! Like we do. When you watch the news, read Internet posts and take in the way things are covered now. You would think this is how it is. We can’t go to work, movies, and school… It’s not. I travel the world constantly! The good towers over the bad… I SEE IT ALMOST EVERY DAY! It’s not as sexy, eye catching and appealing to talk, write or cover. Think of the numbers of years, people and places and how many instances that have occurred. We are so much better then we are not. These are horrible tragedies and we should absolutely bust our ass’s to prevent them. But they are tiny in comparison to how people truly function.

But like anything… we can always do better. So I’m going to make people laugh, be a good brother, son, uncle and a decent reliable friend to everyone while I am here. I will continue to try getting more recognition and assistance for our veterans and mostly appreciate every day and person in my world. I don’t always… days like Monday at The Washington Navy Yard remind me to. I wish they didn’t and never happen. But they do and will… So being the best me is all I can control. Maybe that will have a positive effect. I am also fully aware that my outlook could drastically change if such senseless tragedy directly impacts me. It’s our experience’s that shape us.

I will never pretend to know how I would deal with such pain. Much luv… Peej

Boston Marathon Bombings

An amazingly annoying quality in many comedians is the inability to “turn it off”. When it comes to something like the events that happen to the great people of Boston yesterday… I’m not saying you have to… but just maybe you should. More importantly to my Boston friends. As a New Yorker I have always felt you make us better in all areas. Sports, pride and most important… loyalty. Boston is family! We are all family! If you hear or read something insensitive to the events which have cut you so deep. I’m not saying you have to deal with it “old school” northeastern style… but just maybe you should. I got your back! You are a beautiful, classy and strong city. I’m heartbroken this came upon you. We were not struck yesterday in a weak place. By no means. They made a very big mistake by picking Boston. I know this from life experience. It does not get tougher then Boston! Much Love My Friends!

*MY INTERNAL TRUTH: IN 2012 I REDISCOVERED HOPE.

HOPE
I feel something brewing inside me? A cocktail made up of fear, sadness, anger and hope. The one that feels worthless is the “hope” at the moment. I have hoped for so many things throughout my life. Only a couple that seems significant by any means. Most have been in the selfish fashion. A few fall in the lines of… I hope to meet “the one”, that I have a great career, the team I route for wins, the team I’m on wins, I get tickets to that show, maybe that band will get back together and will George Lucas let someone continue with Star Wars (this last one came true by the way).
Then I have a couple constants. I hope nothing terrible happens to my family and friends. I honestly hope nothing terrible happens to anyone. Which is to very broad to have without disappointment. I have had a “thought” change to “hope” over the years. I had thought we as a people were beyond such a thing as “war”. As a teenager I honestly felt we had undoubtedly learned from our past. We would have real communication take place when it came to such things. I am not saying we do not have evil in this world. We very much do. The kind most do not get the chance to even see cross that line into our lives. Because we have saviors that are there prepared for when they make an attempt. But the thought of being at a place in humanity to truly communicate morphed into hope.
I’m a comedian… at lease that is what I felt I was for quite some time. A few years back I felt a shift within myself. Not within the confines of taking myself to seriously. But being forces to take the world seriously. Maybe I had done it to long? Lost some kind of interest? I was changing… so with that the dynamics of the environment I worked changed. I read, hear and have been told what I do is important. We need laughter… to heal. I am confused at the moment as to my role in it all. I have been doing this long enough to stifle my anger, fear, hurt & pain and make people forget for a while our world. By the second show I had to perform the night hours following the tragedy that took place in Newtown, CT. I started to feel a painfully confusing feeling brewing inside me again. A clear change… I recognized it because the last time it happened to me I was riding in a C-130 airplane flying over Afghanistan with flagged draped coffins carrying deceased service members home. For 5 hours I sat reflecting on my life, wondering who might be in there, where are they headed, how that destination had been affected… then why? What was my purpose? How is it I am sitting here living a pretty amazing life after wearing a uniform in my youth and directly in front of me a uniformed brother or sisters time on this earth has ended? Why?
That night haunted me… I eventually stepped away from the stage, left my comforting comedy world because it became so obviously fake and insignificant to me. I always hoped I would contribute something to this world. It’s a cocky desire. I should have significance. It’s one of my internal battles. Possessing confidence while staying humble. Success is more often then not the destroyer of humility.
For “the artists” a term I have come to embrace to define myself. I recognize that everything is not funny. I had hoped it would always be. If I am really honest with myself standing in front of strangers who just want to drink and laugh seems insignificant to me at the moment. I can’t express what is within me yet. It has been coming for some time. The tragic events in Newtown, CT brought me to reflect yet again. A 27-year-old teacher hid her children in a closet and cabinets. Told the shooter they were at gym. After which he took her life. I am a mildly successful entertainer. I have, had people thank me… I witness people fawn and be fascinated over significantly successful friends I know. From the bottom of my heart I wish we could channel every ounce of those moments into individuals, situations and events much more worthy. Like the beautiful courage of this young woman who is not here to feel every ounce of love every decent person has for her. It’s not one thing like guns, pharmaceuticals, parenting, entertainment, money, political longevity and religion. It is everything! The blatant abuse in every aspect of our human nature has led us to this point. Again I sit here at 40 years of age. Not 18 years old with a thought. I sit again with hope… to be beyond one’s self, to consider others, to evaluate ourselves internally and how we affect our fellow man externally. I am a selfish man at the end of the day. I get what I want from people. Laughter. For me it truly is Gods greatest give. Truthfully, when you make the decision to be funny professionally, you’re never as funny as you were before you made that choice. Because laughter is not about money, ticket sales, managers or agents. Laughter is the surprise recognition that we are not alone in the world. Pure comedy is a gift. I communicate for a living. Again I find myself needing to look at myself and why I am here, what part do I play and more importantly how can I contribute in the most positive way to humanity. I honestly hope we could have real communication take place when it come to all aspects leading up to senseless acts that tear away pure innocence. PLEASE lets move beyond hope!

PJ Walsh (Son, Brother, Uncle, Godfather, Friend, American, Veteran, Comedian)

PS… I should add. This is not me questioning being a stand up comedian. Comedy is my life’s love. I will always do it. This is the artist in me that knows there is an ability to do more. The brilliant director of my theatre solo show Dion Flynn always reminds me “Stand-up is where people go to forget and Theatre is where people go to feel”. This is about feeling. Thank you all that love, laugh & feel.

Comedian / Veteran Advocate