Last nights second show was the closest thing I’ve had to that feeling you get as a kid on Christmas morning. The lead up, excitement and joy. This happens to me every time I know a Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airmen who I had the opportunity to entertain in Iraq or Afghanistan comes to see me here back home. Knowing they made it back and I get to see them HERE ALIVE! Nothing in my life has this kind of significance, importance and is as internally powerful. The joy is completely fueled by relief. In some cases seeing them can/has been difficult. Life back home is far from easy for a good number of our heroes. But seeing them, shaking their hand & sharing that manly or womanly hug let’s me know whatever fight they may be having at least it’s here on the home front now. My respect, friendship, support and loyalty will never waver and is always accessible. I grew up with only sisters. Who undoubtedly bring my life’s biggest joys. In a way I have always searched for a brother… I have found many. In life, the military and even the entertainment world. What is life without true bonds between humans? Just wandering I would think. I have been fortunate to never wander. Which brings me to last night. My friend here is named Micah Clifton. We met in Iraq where he was in charge of keeping myself and the other comedians safe. I bonded with Micah tighter then any other service member over all my years. I have zero doubt it was do to his great sense of humor that complimented an incredible professionalism. His job was to keep us ignorant, safe & clear of the possible dangers that could and did come upon us. He was/is simply the BEST I have ever encountered at giving you a smile that tricked you into thinking everything is fine. I know this because since he’s been out I have gotten the “let me tell you what was REALLY happening THAT DAY talk”. When I tell you it takes a truly special kind of person to be able to navigate situation like those. Please understand my words here can never do his courage justice. Micah is one example of so many men and woman who under our colors function in ways most could never even comprehend and they hope you never do. Micah’s just one story, he’s my protector, my Christmas morning… My Brother! You made it f*cking back! Will love you till my final breath!
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