Here's the Time Warner Cable programming guide summary of tonight's installment of "Elimidate" on WCBS, Channel 2 in New York City:

"Pingpong leads to fighting."

It is also a haiku.

"Elimidate" is brilliantly satirical show. They write the funniest dialogue for those pretty young people to say. They make them seem so utterly brainless and annoying. What artistry.

I'm watching right now. Are you?



I’ve never had a roommate.

Other than my parents, I have never lived with another person. Not in a dorm. Not in a bachelor pad in Brooklyn with five of my Frat buddies. Not with a girlfriend. Nobody but me. For the last fifteen years.

I’m told that this is an unusual thing for a New Yorker, particularly one involved in “the arts.” But I can’t even imagine living with someone I like, let alone someone I don’t.

I hear all these “crazy roommate” stories and I am baffled. I know bright, intelligent adults who have advertised for roommates on the Internet.

What is the if/then logic at work there?

“IF he has a computer, THEN he should live in my apartment.”

This acquaintance of mine (I don’t really have friends – but that’s a story for a different day) posted a message on Craig’s List looking for roommates. He then conducted face-to-face interviews with people who replied to his post.

What a ridiculous waste of time. Everybody knows how to bullshit their way through an interview. That’s the first thing we learn in college.

What questions might one ask while interviewing a stranger who would like to live in one's apartment?

QUESTION #1: Do you smoke?
ANSWER: Not really. Only socially.

What does that mean, “I’m a social smoker?”

"I like to reek of stale smoke, but only when I’m in very close proximity to other people."

If you smoke, you are a smoker. To thine own self, be true. Accept the label, and move on with your life. And stop hiding it from your parents.

The only time most closeted smokers are really “out” about it is when they are with other smokers. There's a real sense of community among the self-polluters. I sounds like a bad pun, but smokers do tend to travel in packs. Because they can’t keep up with the non-smokers. And nobody notices how bad they all smell.

The best thing that ever happened to smokers in New York was Mike Bloomberg. Have you stood in front of a bar on a Friday or Saturday night? It’s like a smokers support group. Everybody shares war stories about how much/little they paid for their last pack. It’s the perfect icebreaker.

And if a guy sees a cute girl step outside and light up, he knows he’s got eight minutes (eleven, if she smokes American Spirits) to make his case.

The moral to this story is - if you are single - start smoking! If you are even modestly attractive, it will help you get laid.

And then lie about it when you’re looking for an apartment.

QUESTION #2: Do you like to pick up random strangers in bars and bring them back to your (my) apartment?
ANSWER: No. I’m not really into that.

I am constantly amazed by the level of promiscuity that exists in New York.

I blame it all on “Sex and the City.”

A whole generation of bright-eyed young women have migrated to Manhattan, yearning for the “glamorous” life of Carrie Bradshaw and her skanky friends. Every single guy in New York City should write a thank-you note to HBO for making it easier to score with idiotic girls from the suburbs.

People seem to enjoy getting drunk, and then getting naked, with someone they met two hours earlier at a party, or a bar. Not that I would know anything about this. I don't go to parties, or bars. And I don't even like to wear shorts in front of people I don't know.

But I’m old-fashioned.

I know plenty of attractive, well-educated women who seem to think it’s a good idea to welcome a perfect stranger into their apartment (and their pants) while their ability to defend themselves has disappeared into a bottle of Absolut.

At least one of these girls refuses to sit on public restroom seats. Because she’s “afraid of catching something.”

I have no interest in being awakened in the middle of the night by sounds of my roommate getting "bizzy" with some Dominican dude she met in the V.I.P Room at Lotus. My apartment has a “No Men After Midnight” policy. And I am the only exception to that rule.

You want to "go wild" like you wish you had in college? Be my guest. I just don't want to be in the next room while it's happening.

QUESTION #3: Will you eat my food?
ANSWER: No. We will separate our food and respect each other’s property.

If you come home late, and you’re drunk or stoned, you want something to eat. If you open up the closet and there’s a bag of Fritos in there, you are going to eat one. Then one will turn into two. And then, well, there are certain urges that cannot be controlled. Fritos is one of them.

You’ll reassure yourself that it will be okay “just this one time.” You’ll promise yourself that you’ll get up early and go to the supermarket before your roommate ever notices that they’re gone.

But you’re drunk and/or stoned so you will forget this promise once you have eaten that last Frito.

Then, some time later, your roommate will say, “Hey, did you see my bag of Fritos? I was sure I had some left…”

And you will lie. And it will be awkward.

QUESTION #4: Will you kill me in my sleep?
ANSWER: No. I'm a vegan. (Williamsburgh, only)

I am amazed when I see people who have fallen asleep on the subway. I'm scared to ride the subway fully conscious.

I see people on the subway, late at night, asleep, wearing their backpacks on on their chest. It's a knapsack. It's not a bulletproof vest. If you are unconscious, you cannot protect yourself. Even if your Jansport is made of kevlar.

If I'm not dating you, or related to you, I don't want you around when I'm sleeping. Nothing personal.

I’ve seen “Taxi Driver.” Travis Bickle is out there. And odds are he can’t afford his own place.

My friend/acquaintance tells me that he loves his roommates. That everything is working out great. But I’m convinced that, some day, he will have major surgery and the doctor will notice that his pancreas is missing.

And it will be for sale on Craig’s List.

I’m sure that - at some point in the distant future - I will get married. And I will have to welcome somebody else into my home on a permanent basis. But I will be old then. And probably in need of round-the-clock care. So I won’t mind.

As long as she doesn't steal my pancreas. Or my Fritos.


Walking home tonight, I saw one of those orange smokestacks on 14th Street. You know what I mean. The big orange tubes that sit on the street spewing smoke from the bowels of the earth.

Am I the only person worried about smoke coming from under the street?

Is the ground on fire? Is there hot magma bubbling under the island of Manhattan? Just what exactly is the government not telling us?

Everybody was walking through this mystery smoke like it was no big deal. There were little children frolicking in it. One little boy kept waving a stick and saying, “Poof! I’m gone!”

Maybe the Pope is right about those Harry Potter books. “Grand Theft Auto” may have hidden porn, but it’s not going to give your kid mesothelioma

There was a one very ingenious woman walked through with her hair wrapped around over her mouth. That was brilliant. She used part of her own body as a homemade gasmask. I can’t do that. There’s not a lot on my head to wrap around.

I tried to pull down my eyebrows, but that didn’t work. It looked like my eyes had a comb-over.



When I was a baby, there was only one way my Mom could get me to fall asleep. She had to drive me around in the car. My crib was a ‘64 Buick Century.

We didn’t have car seats back then, so my Mom would kind of wedge me in, between a teddy bear and her purse.

She’d drive for about five minutes and I’d be out cold. Then she’d leave me in the car and run into Carvel.

She was the only mother to gain weight from an adopted baby. She still blames me for her baby fat.

My father thinks the reason I fell asleep so fast was because the car ran so smoothly. But he was a mechanic, so he’s not really going to be objective about issues like custom front and rear shock absorbers.

I have my own theory, though. I think it was the carbon monoxide.

That’s why I like to smoke cigarettes. I developed a taste for it as a baby.

But every time I hear about global warming, I feel a little bit responsible. If I weren’t such a difficult baby, maybe the polar ice caps wouldn’t be melting.

Even now, I can’t ride in a car without falling asleep. Out of habit.

That turns every cab ride into an adventure. The other day I asked the driver to go to “18th between 5th and Broadway.” I ended up at “185th & Broadway.”

I’m sure it’s nice up there, but I get nervous when I can’t find a Starbucks. And I don’t even drink coffee.

Because caffeine keeps me awake.



My parents have this weird phone at their house.

Instead of having numbers on the buttons, it has slots where you can insert a picture of somebody. Then you program their number into speed dial.

The last time I visited my parents I went to use the phone and I saw a picture of Jesus on the “three” key.

So I pressed it, the phone dialed, and a male voice answered. He said, “Hello, St. Joseph’s Church Rectory. Can I help you?”

My parents have God on speed dial.

So I asked my Mom, “Why the ‘three’ key?”

And she said “Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The Holy Trinity, of course.”

This made perfect sense to her. But the first thing I thought of was, “Thank God they’re not Hindu.”

They would need hundreds of phones. Their house would look like a PBS pledge drive.



I don’t like to party.

This is not a new phenomenon for me. I am not “partied-out.” I am not recovering from anything, except a lifelong struggle with a drug called misanthropy.

But they don’t have a twelve-step program for that. Actually they do, but I’m not really a Myspace type of guy.

Even as a little kid I found the whole concept of the party to be awkward, forced and artificial.

In November of 1975, I celebrated my seventh birthday at the local McDonald’s with two dozen classmates. We ate French fries, drank Coca-Cola and cheered when a minimum-wage cashier made an un-billed guest appearance in clown make-up.

This grease-painted imposter’s claim to be the real Ronald McDonald was belied by the black skin on his arms and hands. Were we to believe that the real Ronald McDonald performs in white face? Was McDonaldland nothing more than a post-modern minstrel show?

It would certainly explain Ronald’s afro.

These questions, and others, occupied my thought as my classmates enjoyed themselves.

All the while I thought, “This would be so much more fun if all these kids weren’t here.“

Throughout grade school, I was able to take refuge in the predictable clichés of children’s birthday parties: the unhealthy food; the number-shaped candles; the dirge-like singing of the Happy Birthday song and, of course, the inevitable crying.

Because it’s not a successful childrens' birthday party until at least one of the kids ends up in tears.

I had made my peace with the party.

In the Spring of 1982, I was enjoying my tenure as an award-winning student at St Joseph Roman Catholic grammar school. Yes, I actually won an award for Smartest Boy. If you don't believe me, you can come over and see it. It's on my wall, right next to my award for being voted the Most Gentlemanly in 8th grade.

When the time came to apply to high school, I figured that I would go wherever my best friend William Yelsits was going. William’s brother Edward had attended Maria Regina, a co-ed Catholic high school, until his tragic death in an alcohol-related car accident a few years earlier. William planned on applying to Maria Regina, in part, to reclaim it for his family.

But my parents had a different idea

My mother suggested that I apply to Chaminade High School, an all-boys, Catholic preparatory school about forty minutes from our house.

Chaminade. Just typing the word catapults me backward into a dark abyss of anger and unresolved hostility.

And I'm between shrinks right now, so the timing is problematic.

Of course, I was accepted to Chaminade, because my ego, even at age 13, was far too big to take a dive on the entrance exam. So, despite my threats to “never buy you a birthday present for the rest of your life,” my mother decided that I was going to be a Chaminade Man.

My father was complicit in this crime, but in retrospect he seems somewhat of an unwitting accomplice. The last decision I am aware of him making came in 1956 when he proposed to my mother. But I wasn’t there. For all I know, it could have been her idea.

My first week of orientation at Chaminade was uneventful, save for the daily dread and the nightly crying fits. Then came the turning point.

On Friday of that first week I was invited to a classmate’s Drink ‘til you Drop party.

“You should come,” the pock-marked host of the party said to me, as he slid the poorly designed invitation into my notebook.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it will be fun,” he responded.

“Fun is an extremely subjective concept,” I answered, as he moved on to the next potential attendee.

The whole thing struck me as odd, considering that I barely knew this kid. And what little I knew of him I didn’t particularly like. And that was pretty much the way I felt about everyone else I encountered that first week, and for the next four years.

At 13 I had absolutely no interest in drinking. And even less in dropping. The whole thing seemed a pointless waste of time.

At that moment I realized that I was at the first major fork in the road of my life.

I could go to this party, in hopes of being accepted by my peers. Or I could circumvent the whole process, and reject them before they would inevitably reject me.

Let me clarify. I was not secretly hoping that my classmates would like me. I was there under duress. These people were not my friends, and they were never going to be. They were my cellmates. I was chained to them each day from 8:10 a.m. until 2:40 p.m. That was more than enough for me.

The decision was made. The party and I would be parting company.

I somehow managed to get through the next four years without ever being invited to another party. Perhaps there was some sort of initiation ritual performed at that first one. And since I missed it, I was out of the loop.

But I was okay with it. More than okay. I was happy about it.

When people learn that I went to high school for four years, and never once socialized with a classmate, they look at me with this combination of shock and pity. Was I some sort of a geek savant locked away in the library, with my nose buried in SAT prep books? Was I secretly writing my manifesto, while trying to break into my father’s gun closet?

No and no. I just chose a different path. And I didn’t feel inclined to veer from that path when I went to college. I commuted to my classes at NYU, and once again managed to avoid parties for four years.

To this day, the structured debauchery of dorm life remains a mystery to me. I regard it much as I do the traditions of the Bushmen of the Kalahari: interesting from a sociological perspective, but nothing I would ever want to experience first hand.

Not surprisingly, my consecutive no partying streak continued through my 20s. I was the Lou Gehrig of not going to parties - The Iron Man.

But the streak came to an abrupt end when I turned 30.

My 29th year was a traumatic one. A ten-year relationship (one of my “different paths”) came to an end. Soon after, Death knocked loudly on my door. But I managed to avoid the swing of his scythe. Twice.

But when it came time to celebrate the successful conclusion of my year of Saturn’s Return, I was consumed by one thought:

I should have a party!

And that’s what I did. I found an appropriately trendy bar in SoHo and I invited everyone I knew – friend, foe and all in between. I also invited the college intern at work. By the time the night was over, I had a new girlfriend.

And I finally understood why everyone likes to party.

I have been to two parties in the last two weeks and I feel, once again, that I have made my peace with the party. But I still feel uneasy, unwanted and uninvited.

At a recent birthday celebration at an East Village bar, I was introduced to a young Indian woman, a friend of the birthday girl. I struck up a conversation with the Indian woman, which seemed (to me, at least) to be proceeding nicely.

“Were you raised as a Hindu? Do you still practice? Are you a vegterian?” I asked, in rapid succession.

“What’s with all the questions, Larry King?” she replied.

As the conversation came to an abrupt conclusion, something occurred to me.

Drinking, drugs and random sex are not the only things I missed out on by avoiding parties. I have never learned how to make small talk.

Why would anyone want to make small talk anyway? I’m not small, and neither should be my talk. I want to make big talk.

“Where are you from? What is your religion? What are your hopes? Your dreams? Your greatest fears?”

But, I have learned, people don’t really like to be interviewed at parties, particularly when they find out that you are a writer with a blog.

It reminds me of something that Ronald McDonald said to me thirty years ago.

“Who cares if I’m black? Shut up and eat your French fries.”

Words to live by.



A comedian friend of mine asked me last night if I had done “The Road.”

For all of you non-comics out there, doing “the Road” would mean (for me) performing outside of New York City.

And that’s the reason I’ve never done it. I try to leave Manhhatan as infrequently as possible. I've lived here for 15 years and I've never even been on Staten Island. I only go to Queens if the Mets are playing.

I would be glad to do the road, but only if I didn’t have to leave the city. Maybe I could perform in front of a blue screen, and they could superimpose me on a stage in Jersey. All I would need is a TV studio here, and a satellite truck there.

If they want me bad enough, they’ll do it.

I did do a road gig once, in Rochester, New York, about six hours from New York City. And therein lies the problem. I have no interest in being in Rochester, New York on a Saturday night. I don’t care how nice the Holiday Inn is.

Does that make me a snob? Of course not!

I was a snob long before I became a comedian.



Last night I saw a sign posted in the Union Square subway station. It said “For Sale $50” and it had a phone number. So I called the number.

The following is a transcription of my side of the call:

“This is Will McKinley calling. I’m inquiring about the $50 sale. Is it still available? It is? Great. I’d like it all in ones please. Yes. Fifty singles, please.

How much are you asking? Beause I’ll go as high as $35, maybe $36.

It’s $50? For fifty singles? What kind of a deal is that? I can get that at the bank. And they have a bowl of hard candies.

Oh, you’re selling a bookcase. Now I understand. And how much is the bookcase? It’s $50. Okay I’ll take the bookcase and the fifty singles.

It’s just the bookcase? You advertise that you’re selling $50 and all of a sudden you’re selling a bookcase? You can’t change the deal in the middle of the negotiations. That’s called a bait-and-switch. I wasn’t born yesterday, you know. And if I was, I certainly wouldn’t need your crummy fifty singles. Everybody knows they don’t let babies into strip clubs. That would be confusing for the baby.

Somebody tore off the bottom of the sign? Now I understand. You’re selling a bookcase. Okay. What kind of books are in it? No books? What am I gonna do with an empty bookcase?

No, I don’t have any books of my own. Because I don’t have a bookcase, that’s why.

Okay. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll take the bookcase, and a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card. And I’ll give you $52.

But you have to throw in a bowl of hard candies.




Will had not planned on inviting Billy and Christian to live with him in his West Village studio.

The apartment was small, even in the altered reality of New York City real estate.

Will knew that Christian wouldn’t be bringing much. After all, there was not much to bring. He was only four months old when he ceased to exist, and one does not accumulate many possessions in 121 days.

On the other hand, Billy had a ton of stuff. And Will knew that better than anyone.

Billy was always a collector. “If shit didn’t smell you’d collect it,” Billy’s Mom said to him when he was four. “Yeah, well, if shit didn’t smell you’d sew it,” he replied.

Even as a pre-schooler, Billy was always ready with a witty comeback.

The collections started with bottle caps, then expanded to wine corks. Luckily Billy’s parents liked to drink, or that collection would have gone nowhere.

Next came spent shell casings, which Billy discovered while foraging under the back porch of his Dad’s hunting cabin near Lake George, New York. An odd collection for a boy who would grow up to be a liberal pacifist.

Baseball cards, comics books, movie posters, memorabilia from “Star Wars” and TV shows like “Gumby” and “Dark Shadows” – all were organized, cataloged and stored with the precision of an archivist.

But nothing was ever thrown away. Nothing.

“What the hell was Billy saving all this stuff for?” Will asked himself as he carried the last of the thirty-one boxes into his apartment

The house at 986 Singleton Avenue in Woodmere was built in 1900. Bill and Josie McKinley moved in sixty-four years later.

Bill worked as a mechanic for Green Bus Lines in Queens, and Josie was a Girl Scout leader and later, a sewing teacher.

Josie and Bill celebrated their twelfth wedding anniversary on November 11, 1968. That same day they received a call from the Nassau County Department of Social Services. A baby boy named Christian had been born to an un-married Catholic college student. The birth mother had chosen to give Christian up for adoption, but the law required that the baby be placed in foster care for a period of not less than four months.

Just in case she changed her mind.

On March 11, 1969 forms were filled out, signatures were committed to paper and Billy McKinley was born.

For eighteen years Billy fought to retain his identity. He rejected the name “Bill” forced upon him by his tormentors at the all-boys Catholic high school, insisting that “Bill” was his father’s name and that he would remain Billy forever.

But when Billy walked through the door at New York University in August of 1986, he did so as Will.

Will continued to live in the house on Singleton Avenue while he attended college, but he felt haunted by the ghosts of both Billy and Christian.

When Will’s parents told him that the house was up for sale, Will began the long process of wading through the attic, basement and garage. In an old file cabinet in the garage he discovered a file labeled “adoption.” In it he discovered yellowing letters and legal documents that answered many questions - the time of Christian’s birth (10:14 a.m.), his weight (6 ½ lbs.), his height (19 ½”). The fact that he liked to “hold on to things, tightly.”

Following the pre-historic paper trail made Christian feel more real than he had ever felt.

Will closed the file and looked at the stack of boxes around him. He knew that it was only a matter of time before he would have to decide what to do with Billy’s stuff. Will knew one thing: he couldn’t throw it all away. To do so would be to betray the memory of Billy.

“What the hell was Billy saving all this stuff for?” Will asked himself again.

The next morning Will was awakened by the daily 8 a.m. phone call from Citibank, inquiring as to when a number of past-due bills would be paid. Will was not very good with money and by age 36 had managed to acquire nearly $75,000 of debt, with absolutely no assets.

Or so he thought.

Will unplugged the phone and pulled his Mom’s hand-made quilt over his head. He closed his eyes and he saw a little boy.

It was Billy, wearing that same old sweaty Mets cap, the one with the iron-on patch.

“I was saving all that stuff for you,” Billy said.

“Come on, we’ve never been good with money. Remember that time I stole money from the Mets Fan Club piggy bank to buy Richie Rich comics? We’ve been in debt since 1979. I knew you were gonna need a bail out some day. I’ve heard about this thing called eBay…”

Finally, Will understood.



I just saw a woman on the subway wearing a very funny t-shirt.

You know that advertising slogan for milk? The one that goes “Got Milk?” Well this young lady’s shirt said “Fuck Milk. Got Pot?”

I laughed so hard that I missed my stop.

What she did with that shirt was, she took a recognizable advertising slogan, and she put her own unique twist on it. Some people like milk, but this person wants us to know that she likes pot. Message received, loud and clear!

And then on top of that, she used the f-curse. The f-curse is always funny.

Here’s an example: I told the lady on the subway that I liked her shirt, and I asked her if I could take a picture of her in her shirt for my blog.

And she said, “Fuck off!’

Again, I was on the floor. Comedians refer to that as a “callback.” She took a word that got a laugh a minute earlier, and then she used it again, getting an additional laugh.

So I said to her, “Pot must give you the munchies, cause that’s a pretty fucking big shirt.” (And it was. I would guess XXL. And she really filled it up.)

Strangely enough, she did not laugh.

But her two kids thought it was hysterical.



On Wednesday I got an email from Will McKinley.

Which is odd, because I’m Will McKinley.

>From: Will McKinley
>Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 10:12:48 -0700 (PDT)
>To: Will McKinley

>So I figured I would secure my website under
>my own name: www.willmckinley.com. And, what
>do I find? Somebody already has it! And it's not even
>some easy-to-hate sleaze looking to sell it!

>It's a legitimate Will McKinley!

>Now I have to settle for something other than dot com.
>Nice to meet you, brother.

>Warm regards,
>Will McKinley
>Torrance, CA USA

I feel terrible! I am definitely not a "legitimate" Will McKinley.

Because I’m adopted.

Actually, I prefer "previously owned."

I don’t know much about the circumstances of my birth, but I do know my name wasn't Will McKinley.

I was Christian Beaton for exactly 121 days, from November 11, 1968 until March 11, 1969. Apparently I had a seventeen-week contract. It was not renewed. I assume the reason was “creative differences”.

I lived with a foster family for those first five months. I don’t know their name. Maybe it was Foster. That would be a hysterical coincidence.

When the judge at the adoption hearing asked for my new name, my new Dad said, “William McKinley.”

Then he paused, and added “Junior.”

“Good choice,” the judge replied. And Christian Beaton cried for the last time.

My new Dad was Bill McKinley, so I became Billy McKinley.

Years later, when I was in second grade at St. Joseph School, I heard a kid on the playground yell, “Hey Christian!”

I stopped cold, and felt confusion that I didn’t understand.

When I got home I said to my Mom, “I heard a cool name today.”

“What was it?” she asked. “Christian,” I answered.

“That was your name, before you were Billy,” she answered.

She was crying when she said it, but I didn’t understand why.


A man said to the universe,
"Sir, I exist!"

"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation."




The management of “previously owned” would like to apologize for our previous apology.

We at “previously owned” do not find mental illness to be “funny.”

Except in extremely rare cases, like that time that Farrah Fawcett was on the Letterman show. But those are the exceptions to the rule.

Nor do we wish to make light of the suffering of the more than 48 million Americans who experience some kind of mental disorder within a twelve-month period.

Unlike certain Hollywood actors who fancy themselves “experts on the history of psychiatry” while simultaneously jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch on national television, we at “previously owned” have the utmost respect for those that struggle with this very real problem.

Again, we apologize if our previous apology has offended crazy people, or their loved ones.

-- The Management


As a point of clarification, I do not in fact take “numerous anti-psychotic medications” as indicated in the previous post by The Management.

In point of fact, I take only one anti-psychotic medication: Zyprexa. And I only take one-quarter of a 2.5 mg pill each day (considered to be less than a therapeutic dose).

In addition, I take 10 mg of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) called Celexa to treat Body Dysmorphic Disorder (because I think I’m fat) and a small amount of Lithium (75 mg), which is nothing more than salt – a naturally-occurring, organic element.

Mental illness is no laughing matter. The dismissive tone of the previous posting is not appreciated by this writer, nor by his fellow sufferers of mental illness.


The management of “previously owned” would like to apologize for the previous post.

We at “previously owned” do not advocate suicide, nor do we consider the taking of one’s own life to be “funny.”

Except in extremely rare cases, like when Sonny Bono skied into a tree. But those are the exceptions to the rule.

Will McKinley, the writer of the previous post, takes numerous anti-psychotic medications to treat a mild case of bipolar disorder.

Occasionally he forgets to take his medication and experiences a certain “darkness” of mood. This is exacerbated when the vegetarian coffee shop in which he writes plays Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt” three times in two hours

Again, we apologize if the previous post has offended any victims of suicide, or their loved ones.

-- The Management


I took my favorite dress shirt to the Van Gogh Cleaner & Tailor shop on the corner of 8th Avenue and West 4th Street.

But when I picked it up I noticed that they had cut off the left sleeve.

I asked the owner why he had done this, but he couldn’t hear me.

He just handed me a note that said “La tristesse durea.”

Then I went home and killed myself.

Perhaps they’ll listen now.


Remember, back in the old days, when you would go into a store and buy something and the cashier would say “thank you” after the transaction?

When did that stop?

Tonight I went into a deli and bought a pack of M&M’s. I handed a dollar to the Asian guy behind the counter. He handed me back twenty-five cents. I waited. Nothing.

I have a policy. If I give you money - for any reason at all – I expect you to say “thank you.”

And I’ll say “thank you” in return.

Not only did the guy not say “thank you,” he kind of scowled at me. Like he was mad at me for taking his M&M’s.

Everybody loves M&M’s. I understand that. But if you put them up for sale, eventually someone’s going to buy them. It’s supply and demand.

So I mumbled “thanks” and I left with my M&M’s.

But when I got outside I thought to myself, “Why did I just thank that guy?”

I went back inside. “I’d like my ‘thanks’ back please,” I said. The cashier looked at me, blankly.

“You owe me a thanks,” I explained. “I said ‘thank you,’ but you didn’t. That means our relationship is short one ‘thank you.’ So now it’s your turn.”

He looked at me. He looked at the M&M’s. He handed me a napkin.

“I don’t need a napkin!” I cried. “M&M’s melt in your mouth, not in your hand! Don’t you know anything about the products you sell? I’m waiting for a ‘thank you!’ A THANK YOU!”

“You’re welcome,” he replied, with a smile.

Watch for my new film, “Abbott & Costello Go To The Korean Deli” coming soon to a theater near you.



Every week at “previously owned” we like to take a moment to share a question from one of our loyal readers. This week’s question is from George K. Lee who writes:

“Wouldn’t you like to have stronger, longer-lasting erections with no prescription?"

Well George, the answer is, yes! And no…

We at “previously owned” love stronger, longer lasting erections as much as the next guy. Assuming that the next guy is not a eunuch named Tomas.

But we prefer ours with a prescription.

Recently, a certain member of the “previously owned” team (whom we will call “Mr. X”) asked his doctor if Levitra was right for him.

“Damn skippy!” replied the physician, whipping it out (his prescription pad, I mean).

With the magic ticket to stronger, longer-lasting erections in his hand, Mr. X marched proudly into the Village Apothecary on Bleecker Street.

“Excuse me, my fine Apothecarian! Pray, tell, have you any Levitra in your stock?”

The attendant nodded to the affirmative.

“Happy Day!” replied Mr. X. “I am approaching the thirty-seventh anniversary of my birth. And my gentlemanly parts don’t have quite the same zip that they once did. Ah, youth! That capricious little minx! One day you turn around and she has left you behind…”

The attendant lifted his index finger to his lips, as if to silence our hero. But Mr. X was undeterred.

“The time for silence has long passed, my fine fellow! Do you remember a time when your manhood would rise again and again, as did Lazarus of Bethany, beloved disciple of our Lord and Savior? I can tell you do, sir, by that faraway look in your eye! Why would one not wish for that again? If a single pill would allow you spend a summer’s day wanting no more than to frolic in the park, lost in an endless game of “Tag,” would you not rush to ingest it? Why, oh why must we men let our pride stand in the way of our happiness?”

By this time a crowd had begun to form around Mr. X. He continued.

“Let there be no doubt. I am able to attend to my manly responsibilities without the aid of assistance. But the moment comes, and then the moment goes. I wish for the moment to come again, and again, and again!’

Cheers erupted from the assemblage.

“The Good Book says, ‘Pride goeth before The Fall.’ Well sir, I shall not fall! I shall remain up! For as long as I wish! And I shall shout the message from the rooftops! The time has come for one man to lead the way. And I shall be that man.”

From that moment on, Mr. X had stronger, longer-lasting erections.

Thanks for the question, George!



The “previously owned” team is proud to announce a new addition to our on-line home: “Site Meter.” Just scroll down the right side of this page, past the “funny friends” section, past the “previous posts” section and there it is.

“Site Meter” will allow you to see just how well we are doing with promoting our little piece of the Blogosphere.

And from the looks of things, we have some work to do! So far we’ve had a total six visits.

So if you are one of them – and logic dictates that you are – consider yourself part of an elite club! You were there before “previously owned” made it big. You were there from the beginning. Before we sold out. And we will sell out. I promise you. As God is my witness.

Fair warning: when word gets out about “previously owned,” Blogspot’s servers will undoubtedly be over-loaded with requests. And your regular morning visit to our site may be delayed. So sip your Latte, unwrap your Branola muffin and be patient!

We understand how much it meant to you when “previously owned” was your little secret. But eventually all secrets must be revealed.

Just ask Karl Rove.



I live in an area of New York City known as the West Village. Are you impressed? Well you should be, because it’s a very expen$ive neighborhood. Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe live around the corner from me. And they are personal friends of mine.

Last Saturday I saw Hilary and Chad loading up the car for a weekend get-away. I bet they were going to the Hamptons! That’s another expensive neighborhood that YOU can probably not afford.

So I walked over to their car and I said, “Hi Hilary! Hi Chad! We live in the same neighborhood, so I thought I should introduce myself. My name is Will and I’m a writer. In fact, I’m going to write about this very conversation in my blog!”

They seemed nice enough, so I continued.

“I’m in the entertainment industry, just like you guys. In fact, I just performed stand-up comedy last night for six people in a basement in Brooklyn. And at least four of them spoke English. Isn’t performing fun? I think actors and comedians and people in the entertainment industry are better than normal, average people, like mailmen or scientists. Don’t you agree? What do scientists do anyway? Science is boring! But we are famous, so that makes us better then scientists.”

They both nodded their heads and continued packing. Obviously we were connecting.

“Anyway, I know Hollywood is far away. So if you ever need someone in The Biz to hang with, I’m here for you. And if you ever need anything, like a cup of sugar, or some cocaine or comic books, well, you just feel free to give me the old ringy-ding-ding!”

At that point they started up the car and began to pull away. So I yelled after them, “Drive safely. Because you are famous and America needs you! And say hi to P. Diddy!”

Then Chad Lowe and Hilary Swank drove off. And I went home and ate a saltine and ketchup sandwich.



I’ve always liked the Monkees better than the Beatles.

Blasphemy, I know. But give me a moment to explain myself.

I grew up with the Monkees. I was not yet born during the primetime run of their 1960’s TV series, but I watched the show almost daily in syndicated re-runs throughout the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. And the 1986 Monkees 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour was the first concert I ever attended free from parental supervision.

I may have even smoked a cigarette during the encore of “I’m a Believer.”

I’ve always enjoyed and respected the music of the Beatles, but I lack that emotional connection with the so-called Fab Four.

I don’t remember where I was the first time I heard “Yesterday,” or when the band broke up, or when John was shot. I’m certainly aware of the roll the band played in the history of American popular culture, but the music of the Beatles has never been the soundtrack of my life.

So it was with the detached respect of an outsider that I went to see the musical biography of perhaps the best known, but least understood, member of the band.

On Wednesday night I had the opportunity to attend the final dress rehearsal of Lennon, the new Broadway musical about the life and music of John Lennon.

I was an outsider in one sense, but an insider in another.

My friend Lori Chase is married to “Lennon” cast member Will Chase.

Will was most recently the lead in the Broadway production of “Aida,” playing opposite R&B singer Toni Braxton - and former Monkee Micky Dolenz! (Yes, I got to meet Micky. And yes, I was starstruck.)

I’ve followed the progression of Will Chase’s involvement with “Lennon” (via reports from Mrs. Chase) from his first audition, through the out-of-town tryout in San Francisco, to the final rehearsals this month in New York.

So when Lori invited me to the final rehearsal I was excited, but trepidacious. There is nothing more awkward than forced smiles and hollow congratulations after a disappointing piece of a friend’s work.

The buzz on this show has been very mixed. Smelling blood in the theatrical water, the New York Post ran a snarky article dismissing the show (which the columnist apparently had not seen) as a “bad trip.” And the Arts calendar of The New York Times pejoratively refers to the production as “the latest jukebox musical.”

It is anything but.

What I expected was a living iPod of familiar hits, recognizable tunes that would leave the audience tapping their collective toes, but without transcendance. What I got was a complex, challenging and surprising exploration of a complex, challenging and surprising man.

“Imagine” the exact opposite of what you think a musical about John Lennon would be. And that’s “Lennon.”

The cast is an ensemble of nine diverse performers – white, black, Asian, male, female. Eight members of the ensemble play John Lennon, sometimes separately, sometimes in unison – all the while inhabiting the stage together. The result is the transformation of an individual into a creative and artistic spirit that inhabits us all.

It’s a profound conceit, but one befitting of a man who engaged in a lifelong quest for spirituality and greater purpose.

Unlike the other “jukebox musicals” that have contaminated the Broadway stage in recent years, “Lennon” shies away from the familiar and recognizable. More than half of the almost thirty songs featured in the show were unfamiliar to me. And there are even treats for the most diehard Lennon bootleg junkie. Two unpublished Lennon compositions, and an additional song written by John but recorded only by former band mate Ringo Starr, augment the required selections from Lennon’s solo canon.

It’s a risky strategy, on a street that doesn’t welcome risk taking. But, by transcending the cliché, “Lennon” feels like a brand new piece of work, from a man who has been deceased for a quarter century.

As the cast member who looks and sounds the most like John, Will Chase is the closest thing the production has to a “lead.” There are moments where the ensemble stands aside and allows Will to channel the spirit of John Lennon. And the result will touch both Lennon diehards and neophytes alike.

As Yoko Ono, Julie Danao delivers a confident and sympathetic performance that may finally allow Beatles fans to understand what John actually saw in her. And the rich, soulful voice of Chuck Cooper is a standout.

But the high point of the show for me was Marcy Harriell’s ferocious performance of a 1977 Lennon B-side called “Woman is the Nigger of the World.” The pathos of an African-American woman singing Lennon’s challenging and provocative lyrics was inspiring.

Director Don Scardino's staging is dynamic, and fluid and truly inventive. An on-stage, ten-piece band accompanies the ensemble, creating an organic whole. Behind the band, a triptych of video screens grounds the audience in the reality of the man through archival photos and John’s own illustrations. And a single, full-stage video screen guides us into – and out of – the altered reality of the ensemble.

But perhaps most appropriately, the show resonates with what may be the single most profound phrase ever uttered by John Lennon, in word, or song:

Give Peace a Chance.

Five hours after I left the Broadhurst Theatre, as bombs tore through John Lennon’s homeland, that message seemed more relevant than it ever has before.

“Lennon The Musical” is in previews now at the Broadhurst Theater. For more information visit www.lennonthemusical.com



When I started this blog, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted it to be. But I know what I didn’t want it to be: jokey.

I’ve been writing jokes for my standup comedy act for almost four years now, and I’ve always struggled with the process. I like to hear myself talk and, if you’ve ever had a conversation with me, you will notice that I have a lot to say. But with standup, verbosity has often worked against me. In most cases, the less wordy a joke is, the funnier it is.

I have a folder on my laptop with every joke I’ve ever written and, in just about every case, the joke starts out way too long. I then have to whittle it down in open mic after open mic until I get to the funny core. But I have always felt constrained by this process. I feel creatively squelched.

Comics say that the hardest part of developing a standup act is “finding your voice.” I’ve always had a voice. I’ve had a voice ever since I started writing.

When I was thirteen I had a regular column in a fan magazine for the 1960’s TV show “Dark Shadows.” (Yes, I was a dork. But that should surprise no one).

Two weeks ago, my parents moved out of my childhood home and I had to get all my stuff out of their three-story house and move it to my one-room apartment. Amongst the comic books and baseball cards and record albums, I came across my old columns. I was fascinated by how consistent the stuff was with my “style” today, more than three decades later.

So I thought, “Fuck it. I’ll start a blog and I can ramble on as long as I want.” Assuming of course that Blogspot does not limit my bandwidth.

But every new opportunity brings with it new challenges.

My goal was to post something to this space every day, and I kept starting things on Thursday that I thought would be “funny,” but I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened in London.

I watched the second World Trade Center tower fall, live and in-person, from the corner of Hudson & Bleecker. My apartment is close enough that I smelled that acrid smoke for weeks after. But I was more spooked by what happened Thursday morning on the other side of the world than I was by what happened four years ago in my own neighborhood.

There was something about planes flying into buildings that seemed so “cinematic.” It was tragic, but it was an anomaly. It was unreal to me. And it remains unreal to me, even though my best friend/ex-girlfriend lives in Battery Park City now, right across the street from what the tourists still insist on calling “Ground Zero.”

But in London they hit the mass transportation. There was nothing “mass” about the World Trade Center. Even at it’s busiest, there was always a finite amount of people in and around the Trade Center. But there are 468 subway stations in the five boroughs and more than six million people ride a New York City subway train or bus each day. And I am one of them.

The cold, hard facts are that, in terms of bang for the evil buck, the attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York City were far more efficient than the attacks of July 7, 2005 in London, or March 11, 2004 in Madrid. But if ten devices were detonated simultaneously in Madrid, and three in London (not including the device that was apparently mistakenly detonated on the No. 30 bus in Bloomsbury), then evidence indicates that the new “strategy” may be the more widespread “syndication” of terror.

A simple Google search will reveal countless “I told you so’s” from every nervous liberal with an Internet connection. But even if George W. Bush held a press conference today and announced that the “coalition” was packing up and would be out of Iraq by sundown, the damage has been done. The hornet’s nest has been hit with the stick and they are starting to sting.

Mike Bloomberg can put a cop on every single subway car, on every single subway line, in every single borough. But you can’t arrest a timer.

And there’s nothing “jokey” about that.



When was the last time you ate a carrot?

If your answer is “for dinner” or “at lunch” or “last night, at my Nicotine Anonymous meeting” then I say, “Kudos to you!” But if you can’t remember the last time you enjoyed nature’s perfect food then you need to review your life choices.

Why do I love thee, carrot? Let me count the ways!

First of all, you can grow your own. And it’s perfectly legal. No federal marshal will bust down your door and confiscate your hydroponic grow lights. The carrot does need to be manufactured by a faceless, multi-national conglomerate, or shot up with hormones, or pasteurized, homogenized or processed. The carrot doesn’t even need a package! All you need is a peeler and you are good to go.

Carrots are good for you, and they’re good for the environment!

There are so many ways to enjoy the carrot. There’s carrot soup, carrot cake, carrot salad, carrot jam, carrot juice, even carrot wine. Imagine the fun of a game of “carrot pong.”

You can eat the carrot raw, and say things like, “What’s up, Doc?” while chewing with your mouth open and fondly remembering your misspent youth.

You can steam the carrot, and feel less guilty about that Bamboo Steamer you bought from the late-night infomercial when you were drunk.

You can mash the carrot and silence your screaming newborn, or your toothless grandma.

You can peel the carrot and make a lovely, edible garnish. Take that, parsley! Get thee hence, oh bitter herb!

You can cook the carrot, and actually increase its nutritional value. Because beta-carotene is heat-resistant! Further proof that the carrot is the super hero of vegetables! It’s invincible!

Beta-carotene is transformed into Vitamin A once inside the body. And Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. So the next time you see a little kid with thick glasses, give him a carrot! I’m sure his Mom will thank you!

And while you’re at it, give Mom a carrot too. Especially if she’s pregnant. And African. VAD often occurs in poverty-stricken countries during the last trimester of pregnancy, when demand by both the mother and the unborn child is greatest.

Are you listening, G8 Summit?

But the best thing is, the more carrots you eat, the more your skin will turn orange. So the next time you have a big date, and you’re thinking about a visit to the tanning salon, why not eat a carrot? Or one-hundred carrots, in one sitting.

You’ll save money and avoid the costly inconvenience of skin cancer.

Love the carrot, and the carrot will love you back.

That’s all, folks!


When I’m not working at my freelance job, I like to spend the day writing. But I have to leave my apartment. There’s something about waking up for the day and not leaving the house that makes me feel like a prisoner, or a shut-in or a hermit. If I’m not out in the world, accomplishing something, I am no longer a productive member of society.

In reality, nobody will know that I didn’t leave the house. But I’ll know. And nobody’s harder on me than me.

Last summer I got into the habit of writing at the Starbucks at Astor Place in The Village. Manhattan-based lovers of over-priced coffee will ask, “Which Starbucks at Astor Place?” Yes, there are two Starbucks, essentially across the street from each other. In a neighborhood that, once upon a time, was a counter culture hotbed. But before you condemn me as a corporate coffee sell-out, let me point out that, at “my” Starbucks (the one across the street from the K-Mart), there is a creative and productive energy un-rivaled by any smoky, Beat-era gathering of the dim past.

At the moment that I write this, there are more than fifteen laptops in use around me. To the left of me, an Asian NYU student is doing her homework. To the right of me, three Jamaican guys are working on a reggae mix. There’s an elderly man in a yarmulke engaging in Talmudic study. There’s even a creepy guy in a hooded sweatshirt pounding on his keyboard like the Phantom of the Opera.

All of us have been here for hours. None of us show any signs of leaving. And very few of us (myself included) have actually bought a cup of coffee – or anything, for that matter.

It’s not unusual for me to spend eight hours at Starbucks without spending a penny. And no staff member seems to notice, or care. So before you blame Starbucks for killing the Mom and Pop coffee shop, why not congratulate them for subsidizing the displaced creative community of New York City? And keep on buying those $5 Grande Iced Mocha Frappuccinos!

In November of 2004, a vegetarian coffee shop opened up right around the block from my apartment. I was confused by this “vegetarian coffee” concept because I thought all coffee was vegetarian. But what do I know? I don’t even drink coffee. For all I know, it has meat in it.

A sign immediately appeared in the window of the new establishment proclaiming “FREE WI-FI INTERNET ACCESS” and, within days, the place was filled with the wireless diaspora. I joined the party and even experimented with something called “textured vegetable protein” masquerading as chicken. (Chicken has nothing to worry about.)

I swore off Starbucks, with it’s endless lines for the bathroom (one bathroom in a place where everybody is drinking!) and frequent criminal activity. I had grown tired of witnessing backpack thefts and feared for the safety of my beloved, un-backed-up Powerbook.

I embraced the crunchy, granola vibe of my new “vegetarian office” and became friendly with the heavily pierced and tattooed staff. I even started buying things (not coffee, of course). Within a few weeks, the place was hopping – even in mid-afternoon on a Tuesday. Then I got hired as a production coordinator on a pharmaceutical sales meeting in Dallas. (Don’t judge me, liberal fuckers. I have to pay my rent).

Two months later, when I returned to my favorite vegetarian coffee shop, the laptops had mysteriously disappeared. Could it be that everyone had taken a day off from their day off? I sat down at my favorite table, pulled out my Powerbook and reached down to plug it in. But what had previously been an outlet was now a metal plate with no plugs. At that moment, the owner sat down next to me and said, “I had to cover all the plugs. None of the laptop people were buying anything.”

“But what about me!” I cried. “I even bought the Textured Vegetable Protein Pot Pie!” I felt like the baby, thrown out with the unemployed, West Village bathwater! “We’ll figure something out,” the owner replied, offering me a complementary vegan marsh mellow.

Eventually, a compromise was reached. A laptop ghetto was created in the far corner of the room, with a single table, an outlet and a power strip. Soon after, some of the laptops began reappearing - huddled together, yearning to be free.

Now I split my writing time between Starbucks and the vegetarian coffee shop. When I’m broke, I squat at Starbucks. When I’m not, I hang out with the tattooed vegans.

But the visits are short and sweet. When my battery is done, so am I.

I love vegan marsh mellows as much as the next guy, but nobody puts Baby in the corner.



There’s a British food store in my neighborhood. They only sell British food. And I think it’s legit, because the food is awful.

Everybody who works there is British, except this one guy. But he has really bad teeth, so he fits right in. You can’t even tell the difference.

I tried to go there on the 4th of July, you know, just to rub it in. Like “Ha. Ha. We won.” But they were closed for “the holiday.”

So I had to get my Earl Grey tea at the Korean deli, which actually worked out better. Because I saved all that money on tax.


Morgan Spurlock, the documentary filmmaker who almost died from a McDonald’s-only diet in "Supersize Me" has a new show on a cable network called FX. I’ve never watched the FX Channel before. I always thought it was just twenty-four hours a day of special effects, with hosts. Sort of like MTV used to be back in the 80’s. Except MTV played music, not clips of things blowing up, but you get the point.

Each week, Morgan (or a surrogate) spends "30 Days" immersed in some sort of foreign experience or culture. In the first episode, Morgan and his less-than-enthusiastic girlfriend spend a month attempting to support themselves with minimum wage jobs. Turns out you can’t really do it. No surprise there. But I appreciate them confirming it for me. So much for my career in stand-up comedy…

In the second episode, a former college athlete tries to get back in shape with a daily steroid cocktail that would frighten a Major League Baseball all-star. The poor guy ends up sterile. I think the urologist said something to the effect of “they’re all dead” when referring to his sperm. His wife was devastated, but at least we know Jose Canseco is not likely to procreate.

In last week’s episode, Dave, a good ole’ boy from down South, spends a month living as a Muslim American in Deerborn, Michigan. Deerborn is home to more than 150,000 Muslims. It’s also home to a McDonald’s that serves halal Chicken McNuggets. Proving my theory that bad taste truly knows no creed.

Dave, a devout Christian, finds it difficult to participate in Muslim religious practices, such as daily prayer. On his first visit to a mosque, Dave nervously hugs the wall like a pimply-faced pre-pubescent at the Middle School Spring Formal. Later, Dave is sent to study Islam under the tutelage of the local imam, but their conversations quickly descend into a religious version of Rock Paper Scissors. Eventually Dave achieves a greater understanding of the Muslim faith by walking a "30 Day" mile in Islamic shoes (just not in the house, where shoes are a no-no).

It occurred to me while watching this program that, for most citizens of the globe, our religion is not a conscious choice. More often, our "beliefs" are thrust upon us by well-meaning parents who engage in a relentless campaign of brainwashing. One that even the best Upper West Side shrinks cannot reverse.

I was taught to be Catholic by my parents. I was taught to be a Mets fan by my next-door neighbor. Growing up on Long Island in the late 1970s’s, that made me a two-time loser.

I was raised in a primarily Jewish area of Long Island known as the Five Towns. If memory serves, the Five Towns were Woodmere, Hewlett, Cedarhurst, Lawrence and Tel Aviv. (EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm not really sure about that fifth town. It may have been Inwood.)

My parents chose to live in a Jewish community, with an public school system nationally recognized for excellence. But I was not to experience the educational fruits of my parents’ tax dollars. Instead, I attended St. Joseph’s School, where many of my teachers were forced to take night jobs at the mall to make ends meet. When you see your math teacher working the register at JC Penney’s - badly - all of a sudden there becomes an issue of credibility.

I became a baseball fan in 1977, the year Reggie Jackson led the "Bronx Zoo" Yankees to an exciting World Series victory against the traitorous Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what happened in those games. I wasn't watching. Watching a Yankee game, for me, was like praying in the mosque was for Dave. Deep down I thought the Yankees were inherently evil, and that God would punish me for watching them. I was convinced that God was a Mets fan. But with God on their side, the Mets proceeded to come in last place for seven consecutive years. God was a shitty fan.

Almost thirty years later I’m still a Mets fan. I remain undeterred by the team’s consistent lack of success and relentless history of underachievement, I still pay my money to sit in the crumbling church known as Shea Stadium, praying that this year will be the year that my God – the RIGHT God - chooses to pay attention.

But even with the clear eyes of approaching middle age, I still can’t help but hate Yankee fans. The same way that so many Americans hate Muslims. I’m sure if I got to know a Yankee fan, I would find him or her to be a good person. Maybe Morgan Spurlock should send me to Yankee Stadium for “30 Days.”

Morgan, are you listening?