Published in Blog Archive.
Denis Leary has this music video that played in moderate rotation on Much Music in the early to mid ’90s called “Asshole.” It was a complete gag, but it sounded and looked its vintage, which lent it a certain authenticity to a kid just entering his teens. To my young eyes it seemed just about the grittiest, most crass (and thusly interesting) thing I’d seen at that point in my life, and I remember it being one of those things that I’d watch with remote control queued up in case I heard the crack of footsteps in close proximity so no one would catch me watching such a thing. In 1997 Leary released his Lock ‘n Load stand-up album, and it was somewhere between then and 1998 that I picked it up, along with No Cure for Cancer, which was the original vehicle for “Asshole.” I would usually fast forward through the song to get to the comedy, which hasn’t aged particularly well, though I still find myself thinking from time to time about one spot where—in between spurts of seizuristic cigarette huffing—Leary planted a seed that continues to sprout seasonally in my mind. “Happiness comes in small doses, folks. It’s a cigarette butt, or a chocolate chip cookie or a five second orgasm. You come, you smoke the butt you eat the cookie you go to sleep wake up and go back to fucking work the next morning, that’s it! End of fucking list!” It’s a wonder I made it out of my teens alive… The concept’s value ebbs and flows with me, but today it returned and it made sense. My brain is constantly on a hunt for The Answer, as if it’s even possible for any answer to deliver the satisfaction of a long-lasting cookie or an endless drag from a smoke. And if a cookie or an orgasm won’t do, the modus operandi has been to keep going until I feel something. Maybe it’s in that space where feeling different becomes confused with feeling better. More is better has been a subconscious mission statement for so long that it struck me as epiphanic when a video I watched this week challenged the idea of binging on food by asking whether or not I’m even enjoying any of it. How much of it is for genuine “mouth pleasure” and how much of it is just mindless habitual self-soothing, seeking something “different” which has become a stand-in for something pleasurable? It’s hardly a stretch from there to wondering which actions are in pursuit of what I’m lead to believe “happiness” is, and which actions are actually in pursuit of the things that make me happy? The small doses seem to matter most.