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The Gospel According To BART….part 3

Picture if you will, a series of tunnels and tracks that run through the Bay Area, both underground and above it. A place where not everything is what it seems. A place known as…..

Who knows what creatures you might see lurking out the window, tearing at the engine of the train.

When I’m having a rough morning after a late night fight with my wife, I love to bow my head, inhale the “fresh scent” of a BART seat and cry. It smells like dirty hair and things I regret saying while I was drunk.

These ads are everywhere. I care about them enough to make fun of their “awesomer” ability to make up words, but not enough to actually look up the website to see what the bloody hell it’s all about. WORST BART AD EVER!

It’s late, and on the BART platform sits proof that (somewhere) a Chippendale’s dancer is out of uniform.

If “fragile” means, “The suitcase that will crush all other suitcases when coming into sight at baggage claim,” then, yes, this suitcase is indeed “fragile.”

“My bike!!!!!!”……………BART would like to remind cyclists that it is not responsible for bikes parked on BART property.

“I can’t believe this jerk just put his feet up on my seat penning in me in like this. I’m going to tell him off any second now…..I’m just going to give this rude piece of shit a piece of my mind…..Oh, boy he’s going to feel my wrath….I’m just gonna……I’m ……Meh, maybe I’ll just stare wanly into an open space wishing that I had the nerve to say something.”

At least this guy had the sense to keep his feet off the seat.

Get me Bert Goldstein in Hollywood and find out why he hasn’t got me an acting gig in 5 months.

I said, “Ma’am, I don’t think this train goes to Paddington station.” She looked at me like I’m crazy and shuffled away from me. Yeah, like I’m the crazy one.

Always pay attention to the signs on the platform; they often contain information that must be obeyed.

Thanks for visiting. You can find part one here: https://thebayareabrit.com/2011/03/07/the-gospel-according-to-bart/

or part two here: https://thebayareabrit.com/2011/07/25/the-gospel-according-to-bart-part-ii/

The Not-So Polite Brit, At Your Service

       This is an old morality tale.

        I used to work at a restaurant with a guy named Thomas, that’s what I think he called himself. As far as I remember everyone just referred to him as “Stinky” but not to his face mind you. Thomas had–insert echoey reverbed voice–B.O.
And it was bad, really bad. None of us could believe how this normal, academic looking white-bread character wasn’t aware of his complete and utter underarm funk. I’m not talking about the musky smell of a recently exercised male here. I’m talking about the smell from the depths of Satan’s ass that made you gag as he wafted away. He wore a white waiter’s shirt that must have been deathly allergic to cleaning chemicals and only held together by its own stubborn understains. Heaven forbid any of the poor wretches that he waited on.

       Who knows how many first dates he ruined by failing to acquaint himself with a bar of soap?

           I won’t go into it too much more, but when he had left the scene of a conversation I swear you could still smell him a minute later. His odor was probably temporarily lost without him, like a puppy off its leash for the first time. If he came back before the minute was up, it was like he lapped his smell on the track forging an uber-funk that was seal up your nostrils with window putty intolerable.

           So anyway, one morning after we all agreed that Thomas needed to know (he was having a particularly bad (underarm) hair day or something) I volunteered myself for the mission. Well, everyone knows I can be a dick, and I didn’t really care whether Stinky thought less of me for telling him.

         So I said, “Dude, did you take a shower this morning because you fucking stink?”

         Okay, so yeah, I could have handled it better (story of my life) but I said it. He was shocked, startled, embarrassed, and had not a clue that his underarm odor was being ridiculed by every single employee at the joint–including, might I add, all of the managers–none of whom wanted to say anything.

        So after the deed was done, I mentioned what I had said to Thomas to some of my co-workers and everyone was grateful and relieved. They said things to me like:
“I can’t believe you said something! I hope he gets a clue.”
“About time someone said something to that stinky muthafucka.”
“Thank God, Matty Stone, you are a true savior, let me worship your genius while I gently massage your genitals and feed you peeled grapes.”

        Okay, okay, that last one was obviously a lie. Just making sure you’re still paying attention.

       The next week Thomas comes up to me and says, “I need to talk to you.” And I assume he’s going to thank me for saying something to him about his hygiene issue, and that people have been a lot more willing to talk to him for more than a few seconds at a time.

       Instead he says: “You know, I asked everyone the next day if they thought I ever smell bad, and not one of them said I did; you’re a fucking dick.”

      While he was correct, I can be a fucking dick, I couldn’t believe that not one of my co-workers backed me up–not one.

     So the moral here, if there is one, is this:

      If I tell you you stink, and you ask other people if you stink and they say no. You still stink, and they’re just a bunch of cowards who would rather make fun of you behind your back rather than confront you about a problem that could easily be resolved with a bar of soap.

     All of which still makes me a fucking dick.

Take A Bath With The Bay Area Brit

I get remarkable things accomplished in the bathtub. Admittedly I’m not learning to speak Swahili, baking a truffle soufflé, or taking the test one needs for a license to fly the Space Shuttle. (Imagine flashing that to a Highway Patrol Officer when caught speeding.) No, my accomplishments are kind of boring comparatively, but are important to my daily existence. I’m talking about plucking something from the air and turning it into something that might briefly entertain someone.

The most common question asked of artists (of all kind) is a variation of this: “Where do you get your ideas?” My answer to this strange question is always this, “My inspiration comes when I’m in a bathtub.”

Most of my writing and cartoon ideas evolve while I’m soaking in hot water. The reason is super-obvious…and no it’s not because I’m a Human Bean. It’s because there are usually far fewer distractions in the tub…unless of course one is not alone. (Pass the soap.)

When my mind is in that place of calm and tranquility, anything can happen. This is how I write: I think randomly, and without censoring myself I write down everything that I think is funny. On one page in one of my notebooks I found these examples.

Two light bulbs playing Scrabble…one of them comes up with a triple word score and a smaller illuminated light bulb shows up above his head.  (cute kinda funny)

Two friends at an Alien Abductees Support Group fear the worst and forlornly look to the sky when they notice their friend Bob is not at the meeting.   (pretty funny)

A lonely child writes false names and well wishes on the cast of his broken leg to ease his misery.  (funny and sad)

From my dampened notebooks you’ll find the seed of an idea scrawled in black, barely legible smudges that suggests that Purgatory is hilariously bureaucratic for an afterlife station. You’ll also find notes for an idea about a germophobic teenager that discovers his grandmother’s four previous husbands died mysteriously. Both of these rambling, inky smears turned into 320 page novels.

I’ve written over a hundred or so short stories and blogs. I’ve dreamed up a couple of thousand cartoons and have three or four more book ideas with anywhere between 3 and 200 pages written (not including the two sequels to the two books I’ve mentioned.) I also co-wrote a third book (a “How to” spoof which in its current incarnation is an iPhone application created by my co-writer.) All of these weird thoughts and ideas (for better or worse) might never have existed if it wasn’t for the bathtub…and of course my avoidance of distractions.

Distractions are the enemy, oh yes. At all cost I try to avoid distractions.

I have over eighty notebooks that have been steam-wrinkled (much as I have been) by spending hour upon hour, day upon day, week upon week—dare I say month upon month—in the bath. All of these notebooks are packed with sketches, jokes, or story ideas. Some pages are funny and clever. A large percentage of them are mediocre, and some are wretchedly awful and tasteless. Even more are completely unfunny bits that just don’t work. Most of the contents of these books will never see the light of day.

But I try hard to come up with the next great idea, joke, story, or cartoon. However, I cannot do it if I’m distracted.

Yep, some men are the strong silent types. Not me. I’m the kind of guy that figures if he keeps talking and making jokes, eventually, even if it’s by accident, he’s going to say something funny or clever. It’s the infinite number of monkeys taking an infinite number of baths theory.

So yes, the bathtub is my fortress of solitude, where, for me, all the good things that make me happy start to come alive. Guess where I wrote this?

I had no choice.

Something was causing a massive distraction in my office. Distractions are the enemy, even when they’re really, really cute.

I Speak American Real Good

Most British kids grow up watching American TV and films. As a consequence, we learned to imitate the actors and movie stars we watched. As a twelve year-old I could do a pretty mean Clint Eastwood; I had the squint too. Unfortunately I was about as intimidating as a geriatric goldfish.

However, if I spoke with a genuine American accent in this country, maybe I’d be taken more seriously when conversing with strangers. I cannot do it though, an American accent is just not my default setting.

My job dictates that I talk to a lot of strangers every day, and I’m often engaged to discuss many topics of interest. When I’m asked a question, it doesn’t take long before the more intelligent of the American species can pinpoint that I speak differently from them. More often than not, they’ll notice my manner of speech right as I’m about to deliver the punchline to a joke, or finish making a socio-political comment. That’s when I’ll be interrupted by the question.

“Where’s that accent from?”

I will be temporarily thrown off from my point and look at the person and say something like, “England, but in answer to your question about Cheney’s foreign policy…” Then I’m interrupted again.

“Oh, we just love England.”

It never fails. My point (if there was one) has evaporated faster than vulture piss under the Sahara’s Desert’s midday sun. My point is I feel objectified, in as much as I’m made to feel that I couldn’t possibly have anything interesting to say because my accent is “cute” to the American ear.

You might be thinking, “So what? You’re lucky that there’s something about you that Americans find different/interesting/attractive.” Or you might be thinking, “Well maybe you were boring them to tears and they were just looking for a way to stop you from talking.” I happen to think that’s completely impossible. I have nothing but interesting opinions and hilarious jokes….ahem.

I’m also often asked if I can talk with an American accent? The answer to this, of course, is yes. The follow-up is usually one of two questions:

“Okay, can I hear it then?”


“Well then why don’t you speak like that all the time?”

This is then almost always followed with, “Why would you speak like you do when you can talk normally?”

At which I point I’ll make a sarcastic comment or give them my look of indignation…you know the one. If you don’t know the one, just strike up a conversation with a woman, and just as she’s about to give you her opinion of Atheism versus Agnosticism, say something like:

“Hey, lady, you have great tits–are they real?”

See what happens next, and then think of me.

The Bloody Weather

      Not that I’m complaining but we’ve been getting a lot of rain here in the Bay Area. I suppose you could say it reminds me of my life living in England. I got to thinking of the differences in not only the weather, but the way that the news of it is passed along to us.

     In America, the TV weatherman, by which of course I mean, “Meteorological Person,” has the toughest job on the news. I’m not referring to the notion that they might somehow be responsible for what the sky offered us today. Nor that their professional incompetence might ruin your trip to the beach. No, I’m talking about how hard it must be, as a meteorologist, to try and make what you’re saying seem relevant in a news broadcast.

        “Bad news on the way I’m afraid. It’s going to rain tomorrow and you might just need an umbrella.” Even outside of a TV news broadcast setting that’s not bad news. It’s going to rain? That could be considered a minor inconvenience at best, especially when stacked up against other news stories; the phrase “bad news” seems sorely out of place.

            A wildfire spreading through your neighborhood is bad news. A garbage strike is bad news. Your childhood sports hero has to have both arms and legs amputated, that’s bad news. “Your hair and coat might get a little wet tomorrow,” is up there in newsworthiness with: “This just in… a man in South Dakota farted last night in his sleep. The only person affected by the incident were his wife who complained that the noise awoke her, and their dog who was curled up around the man’s legs at the time.”

       Often, the meteorologist (from here on out referred to as the weatherman) will have to follow a news anchor who might say something like this: “…leaving the orphaned children to fend for themselves in the snake pit. And now with the weather, here’s Chip…Chip.”

         To showcase what masters of trickery weathermen are, no one really notices the awful segue. Chip starts out soberly slow with a quick précis of the day’s weather in your region. Then his voice and tone pick up the cadence a little, with what he refers to as “some good news on the way.” He says that the weekend should be a lot clearer with temperatures in the mid-eighties.

          Chip doesn’t pause to accept credit for the better weather to follow, but by now everyone has forgotten all about the grisly demise of a family of four’s doomed camping expedition which went horribly awry thanks to a short-sighted cartographer’s dyslexic condition. At this point of the news broadcast, the TV viewing audience is wondering whether they should throw a pool party this weekend. “Fire up those barbecues,” beams Chip. “It’s gonna be a scorcher!” He flashes his white teeth, which showcase his tanned skin and handsome features; he holds the expression for a second in the hope that the best casting agents in Hollywood are watching the broadcast.

         In Britain there are no such dreams of Hollywood stardom for our depressed weatherman. His glumness fits right into the news seamlessly. “Tomorrow it’s going to rain. I’m sorry; it’s not my fault.” Then the weatherman whose name is usually Michael or Robert, but never Mike or Bob, places a little cartoon cloud over where the word London should be on a map of the United Kingdom. It simplifies the science of weather perfectly. Here’s the country you live in, and here’s a cartoon grey cloud which signifies that tomorrow the weather will be cloudy, and will remain so, until it’s time for me to fish out one of those little yellow and orange cartoon suns from a cardboard box in the back of the studio somewhere. The British have a love/hate relationship with their weathermen and their weather, and without its almost terminal grayness would give the Brits one less thing to complain about—which they would in turn probably complain about. Michael doesn’t have to worry about how his audience feels at the end of the news broadcast, his job is done; all the little cartoon clouds have been placed onto the map and it’s time for him to go home and eat his supper.

        Back in the U.S. much like a well-acted drama or book, Chip wins the TV audience back at the end of the broadcast with some good news. After all, they did just sit through an hour of stories about death occurring all around the world in the form of wars, earthquakes, bridge collapses and closer to home shootings on their city’s streets. The viewer rode all that way, guided by a team of reliable reporters and appropriately serious anchors. It is now up to Chip to leave the audience with a happy sense of wellbeing. At the end of Chip’s work day, he can put down his pointer and walk away from the green screen knowing that he made the world a better place by cheering a few hundred thousand people up. But wait…there is a breaking news story. This is usually pretty meaty, because the news team genuinely wants you to feel happy at the end of the news broadcast. They want you to come back and watch again tomorrow, but at the same time they can’t risk missing the story when their rivals will surely be on the same trail and so have to tell you about it. After all, the story might be about a three alarm fire at a pet store.
“…leaving the orphaned kittens to fend for themselves in the blazing inferno.”

© copyright Matty Stone 2010