Dane Train Derailed, Evading The Feds and Blaring Fire Alarms

When my bleary eyes first saw daylight Sunday morning, it was not because of a beautiful woman. I didn’t see a bright sunny day and there was no fresh pile of money from the Tooth Fairy under my pillow. Rather, my slumber was broken by a blaring fire alarm, caused by the lady downstairs burning something in her oven. Happy Sunday, Josh Nason.

Interestingly enough, there was no sense of urgency despite not knowing exactly what was going on outside my door. I groggily put on some jeans, grabbed my wallet, jacket, cell phone and some gum, thinking that if I needed to be out of my apartment for a while, that’d be all I need. Granted if I awoke to a smoke-filled apartment, I would have been a bit more rushed. As I walked back from Dunkin’ Donuts, I got to thinking about fires and some of the irreplaceable stuff that would crush me to lose like my pictures, my laptop/IPod and my comic collection. (Yes, I’m a nerd.) A good friend of mine had an apartment fire a few years ago where he basically lost everything, minus the cell/wallet/keys combo I mentioned earlier. So, I ask you: if you were to have 120 seconds to get out of your place without knowing if anything would be there after you exited, what would you take?

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Overexposure can be a killer for entertainers. One of my biggest pet peeves in the music industry is the inability for some acts to just go away after nabbing success. Especially rampant in pop music, certain celebs just don’t subscribe to the thought process that it’s ok if you disappear for a while. The old saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” was said for a reason. Unfortunately, one of my favorite comedians is suffering from the dreaded “He’s everywhere” disease and I think it’s about to get worse.

With his meteoric rise in popularity, Dane Cook has become one of the most polarizing pop culture figures in recent memory. He epitomizes the mantra ‘you either love him or hate him’ as women and the younger 20-something set flock to him because of his cool guy demeanor, while his critics cling onto one solitary saying that unites them: he’s not funny. I personally enjoy the pop culture references and stage presence in his act, but that’s just me.

However, those that hate him really hate him and seem troubled by his success. There’s a website (www.danecooksucks.com), Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield’s 2006 rant and then this bizarre piece by MSN’s The Big Debate, just a few among the myriad of detractors out there. Leave it to the internet community -where there’s a cause and internet tutorials, there’s a way. The majority of my friends are not on the Dane Train and can’t figure out why I like him. Truth be told, I love his comedy but am not a fan of his movies. I saw Employee of the Month six months after it was released (laughed a handful of times) and have no plans to catch Good Luck Chuck. I don’t think he makes funny movies and apparently, I’m not alone.

Therein lies two issues. One is that Cook is doing too many movies. Between Employee, Chuck, Mr. Brooks and the soon-to-be released Dan In Real Life, that’s four movies in less than two years. Add in the success of his double cd Retaliation, HBO comedy special (sorry, event), HBO series Tourgasm, MLB promos and endless amount of tv appearances and magazine covers and no wonder that even the biggest Cook fans may be a little worn out. Given that history can show us what happens to those that are over-exposed, I’m surprised that his handlers haven’t pulled back the reigns a bit.

Expect to hear more about Cook in the next two months as his new cd drops in November, sandwiched around a major arena tour which will see Cook travel the country and perform in front of what will be huge crowds, capping off a two-year run that has seen him go from small clubs to entertainment magazine covers. My hope is that Cook will then disappear for a while and let us recharge our batteries. There can definitely be too much of a good thing and for those of us who still laugh when we think the phrase “I did my best,” we could use a break.

And please, please, please: no more songs like this.

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Finally, I’ve been transfixed by a New Hampshire story involving a couple who were holed up for almost nine months despite being convicted on tax evasion charges. It involved Ed and Elaine Brown who owed $1.9 million in taxes and were convicted in federal court in January. Instead of going peacefully into that good night, the two barricaded themselves into their home, fortified it and then went Koreshian on us, saying they wouldn’t go peacefully unless they were shown what law they broke. Throw in some guns, homemade bombs and crazy supporters and you have an old-fashioned standoff.

Until Thursday night, that is. The Browns’ open-door policy in welcoming anti-tax supporters came to bite them in the ass as two Marshalls posed as supporters and promptly escorted the Browns off the property and into custody, just like that. Long story short, it was your classic citizens vs. the feds clash with the government showing restraint because of the problems in Waco and Ruby Ridge. They learned from their mistakes and while costly, there was no national news-grabbing incident that would result in the government looking bad.

What has interested me is the feeling I get that people are behind the government on this one. In a society where we’re taught to buck trends and to fight authority, we rallied behind the ultimate authority in their attempt to take down two 60-year-olds. That amazes me. Anti-government supporters are traditionally seen as crazy zealots and looked down on, rather than be supported for their views that are bolstered by free speech.

Perhaps it’s because on an issue like taxes, we feel like no one should be special and if we have to pay them, everyone else should too. I found myself being more annoyed by the Browns than open to their views, probably because of the manner in which they opposed it. Then there was this story about a car registered to them being involved in an accident and because of the lack of car insurance, the person hit had no transportation to college. That’s not counter-culture or fighting for your rights. That’s being a downright pair of jerks.

Anti-government supporters will always be a presence, but until they understand how to sway the minds of the general public, they will remain a minority that is often remembered for their failings than their successes.

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