An individual exhibiting such uniqueness or individuality that he or she will cause a roomful of bar cronies to exclaim, "That's one interesting motherfucker!" Actual sexual relations with one's mother are not required.
Olberman, MSNBC opinion-head and former ESPN Sportscaster
.Bill Hicks died when I was in high school. Tool's Undertow album was out and I couldn't stop listening to Prison Sex on the kickin' factory speakers in my neighbor's Beretta. It had become a pastime to listen to Tool loud and stoned on our way to school. In fact, if it wasn't for Tool and pot, going to school woulda sucked.
.Denis Leary's first stand-up/music album came out at about the exact same time. I thought it was amazing. hard-core. intelligent. mature. I'd never heard anyone talk like he did. and he was talking about drugs! I remember thinking, "Hey! I'm doing drugs too! I just started! YEAH! When you're a stoner, you're always thinking about how to make bongs out of stuff! I know what he means! Wow! This guy's my idol!"
.Radiohead was just starting its plans for world music domination with Creep in those days, too.
But what the hell?! What am I yammering on about? Is this just another pointless rant in Acid-minor? Here's what brings it all together:
#1 - Tool openly expressed their gratitude for what Bill Hicks was doing in their Undertow album and gave a solemn, somber farewell to Hicks in their follow-up album Ænima featuring a fucked up picture of Hicks as a doctor doing a check-up on a hysterical patient with his mutated third eye completely fucking squeegied. The caption: "Bill Hicks. Another Dead Hero." Hicks even introduced the band at Lollapalooza in the summer of '93 in L.A.
#2 - Radiohead dedicated The Bends to the memory of Bill Hicks.
And #3 - Denis Leary stole several segments of Bill's act for No Cure for Cancer. This is what hit me the hardest the first time I listened to Hicks' Dangerous in '98 or '99. I couldn't believe that the stand-up routine I swore by and almost completely memorized was partially ripped-off of this "new" guy Bill Hicks. And furthermore, Hicks wasn't holding back at all. One of the things that really blew me away with Leary was his openness. but I didn't know what open was until I heard Hicks. Hicks was the epitome of unrestrained thought in vocal form.
I was completely hooked.
Bill Hicks grew up mainly in Houston, TX and at a fairly young age was already recognizing the insanity and unanswerability of modern American family life. Whereas it could be said that a lot of adolescent angst materializes seemingly out of thin air and only because it feels like the right thing to do, Hicks seemed to have a pretty good grip on what the problem was: rules, regulations, the status quo, and stagnation.
Like many of us, or maybe I'm speaking only for myself, the family unit we experienced was never really strong. I never really lashed out in any major way, I was just totally disconnected from the feeling of a loving family. Hicks never lashed out either, but he still never felt connected to his mom or dad, brother or sister, in any emotional or spiritual way. Finally, he found a male counterpart who had almost the same alienated family background as he, in the form of high school cohort, Dwight Slade. This gave rise to Hicks' new path, one of reading, stand-up comedy, music, spirituality, and transcendental meditation. These guys were in HIGH SCHOOL, ya'll. No drugs or booze or fuckin' around with the wrong crowd. Dwight and Bill were blazing their own trail.
They started doin' little routines ripped off of Woody Allen and Johnny Carson on cassette recorders and eventually took their two-man act to the public at a place called The Workshop. They were always well-received, but then Dwight moved away, decelerating the incredible momentum they'd created together. Despite the loss Bill decided to keep doing shows anyway. A new club opened up next to The Workshop called The Comic Annex. It was place for stand-up comics to perform every night while people boozed themselves up. Bill was the youngest guy there, still in high school, straight-edge, and the most welcomed of all the comedians. But Bill still wasn't the comedian he would turn out to be. It took a meeting with an ex-preacher named Sam Kinison to kick him into gear. What Hicks gained from Kinison's act was his sense of "Who gives a fuck?" Kinison spoke openly about religion on stage in an almost serious manner so as to pick away at the very notion of religious practice. His comedy had more of a political bent than Hicks was used to hearing, and it turned Bill on right away. This was the spark, or should I say, "violent reign of thunderbolts," that Hicks needed to put him on the path towards the patented brand of stand-up comedy he would perform from then on.
At 19, Bill moved to Los Angeles and started workin' the stage over at the Comedy Store in Hollywood where pretty much every notable comedian of the mid to late eighties hailed; Dice, Shandling, Seinfeld, Leno. It was in Los Angeles that Bill Hicks had his first experience with drugs by dropping a hit of LSD in his apartment.
He began to "expand" on various levels after that, merging his seemingly inevitable run-in with drugs and alcohol with his politically and socially charged rants. It was a combination that ultimately detracted from the pure message he was trying to send and which also landed him a broken foot with the help of two marines who happened to see a show they didn't like. He began to be known through the comedy circuit as a risk, albeit a worthy risk, but more than anything else, an alcoholic. AA to the rescue. Once Bill got past the drugs and alcohol, focusing only on periodic mushroom trips with his buddies on their ranch in Texas, his message became clear and focused. He was mortally passionate about revolutionizing the way people thought in general about everything they experienced in the reality presented by corporations and governments. His motto was, "Eat some fucking mushrooms and squeegie your third fuckin' eye!" And this, I would argue, is part of the reason why Bill would have to die an untimely death.
Bill couldn't get a whole helluva lotta momentum in the American McWorld (though he had a frequent spot on the Letterman show and did an HBO special sponsored by Rodney Dangerfield) so he decided to take his act to England, Australia, Ireland, and Canada. This is where he made his comedic breakthroughs happen in front of thousands and people fell in love with Hicks immediately. He had a production company and tons of ideas for TV shows swirling through his head.
But in America his popularity stagnated and was stifled by corporate censorship. (Hmmm... what was it about American society that made it so hard for someone of Bill's character to get noticed?) Hicks was a strong proponent of evolution. not just the evolution of the human form, but the evolution of thought. of consciousness. ("You know, evolution didn't stop with opposable thumbs, ya'll.") He brought out the idea that we still have a long way to go in terms of furthering our ideas and our thinking about how we want to deal with our situation here on earth and beyond. There's a lot of sir psycho sex magic theory in the universe that hasn't been tapped by all the proper channels. The evolution we must now get attuned to involves collective human consciousness. Don't get bogged down thinking ideas are bad or dangerous. Ideas are not bad or dangerous and the more we censor, the more we stifle raw true artistic expression, the, more evolution stagnates. This stagnation is caused by producers and corporate sponsors who want to keep people as stupid and unthinking as possible. This is best exemplified in their censoring of Hicks' final performance on the Letterman show. It was never shown because of what the producers decided was unfit to air. It's the twisted cycle of maintaining public stupidity which continues, in a bulldozing fashion, to this very day. Here's a list of some of the material that Hicks had pre-approved with segment producer Mary Connelly before the show and that CBS Standards and Practice later deemed unsuitable*:
1) The irony of pro-lifers killing people
2) A new show Bill wanted to produce called, "Let's Hunt and Kill Billy Ray Cyrus"
3) Bill questioning the wearing of crucifixes, noting that that would be the last thing Jesus would wanna see if he came back ( I just made up a joke: What do you put on your plate at Jesus' Last Supper Salad Bar? Crucifixin's!)
4) Criticizing how we celebrate Easter with "a giant bunny rabbit leaving chocolate eggs in the night."
* http://www.konformist.com/2000/bill-hicks.htm has a slightly edited transcript of the set within the 39-page letter Hicks wrote to John Lahr from the New Yorker concerning the issue. It's pretty obvious what particular group CBS didn't want to offend.
This whole situation shows how it's all right to tell brainless conventional jokes but it's not all right to step over the edge and poke fun at major sponsoring groups like the Christian lobby. And it's also fascinating to note that the less critical one is about various issues concerning the status quo, the more apt you are to become prey to advertising*. The more substance and talking points you have in a show, the less attention you'll pay to the commercial break. Your mind would be too busy digesting and pondering the new information that was just received. U.S. media just can't have that. That would be a bullet in the heart of consumerism, capitalism, and the American Dream.
* One of the things that pained Hicks the most was watching his former idol, Jay Leno, shilling Doritos to bovine America ("Crunch all ya want. we'll make more!") and becoming a corporate fuck-bag for NBC. The routine he created around his loathing for Leno is totally unrelenting and savage, describing, at one point, Jay Leno stuffing the barrel of an Uzi in his mouth and blowing his brains out in the shape of an NBC peacock on the wall behind him after having a meaningless interview with Joey Lawrence from the show "Blossom." And to this day, Leno remains shameless.
Hicks slipped his Letterman act into his next few road shows and announced to the audience that what they just heard had been completely censored by CBS. This was all going on at a time when the man was dying of cancer, for fuck's sake. He knew it was almost time to breach the plane between "here" and "there" and the whole episode with the Letterman show was pushing him over the edge. It's one thing to protect your child from some of the grimmer realities our world has to offer, but to protect the general American public with the same reasoning just begs to be brought up for serious questioning, especially regarding the remarks Hicks made that night on Letterman. Who is being shielded from these remarks and for what fucking reason? You know the answer.
Bill Hicks was known as a comedian, but what set Bill apart from every other comedian and, well, every other person who has ever been in the media spotlight, was his relentless passion to do whatever he could to bring about the further evolution of the human species. more specifically in the domain of ideas and thought. He was the spokesman for an underground focus group based in the belief that our evolution now rests solely in the evolution of ideas. And it could be argued that there's not much else.? If we are all nothing more than our fleeting thoughts, than why not start from that one essential point? So far, the human species has proved nothing more than the fact that we have thoughts that periodically manifest themselves in the "real" world in the form of action. If nothing else is real you can be absa-fuckin'-lutely rest assured that your thoughts are "real." Your perceptions and your actions are a whole 'nuther thing, but your thoughts, your ideas, your imagination, your dreams. those things you can count on.
Because thought-energy is the only reliable aspect of our existence, Bill constantly asked himself questions like, "Why is there such a thing as a bad thought or a controversial thought in our world?" "Why do we censor ourselves?" After all, isn't that keeping us from arriving at and understanding the basic underlying truths which dictate our existence and experience? What's really keeping us from being completely open with our thoughts? What is that stifling force? And Bill had an answer: the FCC, censors, network producers, CBS Standards and Practices, and the fear of offending farm-grown viewers at home. Moving further with this idea, he realized it all boiled down to big media, big government, and big corporations who are dead set on keeping people as stupid and non-thinking as possible. It could, of course, upset the delicate strategy of consumerism on which our society is based.
What made Hicks a revolutionary, and soon-to-be-legend in the vein of Lenny Bruce and George Carlin, was his uncompromising journey to the heart of truth, dragging every facet of hell on earth to its death and dismemberment along the way. And I'm not talking about the heart of truth as defined by your average daily AM radio pundits like Rush, Hannity, Savage, Al Rantel, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and who knows who the fuck else out there spewing oral garbage and claiming to be the true dispenser of truth. I'm talking about fundamental inarguable truths. To use a couple 'a simple examples from Hicks: If there are so many homeless people in the streets, doesn't that tell you that our system doesn't work? If news is so fair and balanced and objective, why is it that there's never a positive story about drugs? I'm sure many of you out there have had some bitchin' times on drugs. where's that story? If drugs are so bad, why is Keith Richards still up and around? He shot heroine in his eyeballs. These are the kinds of truths that Bill liked to explore. We, as an American public, are so shot full of rhetoric to one side that we're rarely able to find the time and space to think objectively and rationally about things for ourselves, especially now as the world is being split decisively between good and evil, right and wrong. These were the subjects of Bill's curiosity and his routine. Abortion, drugs, religion, governments, capitalism, entertainment, the military, "Who's the Boss?," commercials, media. all of these things were fleshed out in front of human audiences usually to their absolute awe. He denounced pop stars as "demons set loose upon the earth to lower the standards," distracting us from the perfect heaven on earth which we are all entitled to as the true children of god and moving us further into the becoming the "third mall from the sun." As Bill often proclaimed, the audience had become his sheep while he was the herder, rounding up all the marginal thoughts everyone had but were unsure if they were kosher in society, especially in the Reagan and Bush years. Good lord.
In this way, Hicks was therapy for humans who just couldn't put their finger on the pulse of "why do we put up with hell on earth?" "What is it that bothers me so much that I can't properly put into words?" Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we've only begun to dream the big, deep, progressive, infinite, beautiful dreams of humankind. We've only now been considering the reality of our global existence and how that existence can be furthered. In essence, we've only now begun to think of ways of harnessing the control of our own evolution.
Bill Hicks was an evolutionary catalyst incarnate. He was proof positive that nature cannot handle huge leaps in (r)evolution, that it must be a gradual process. Nature can't keep up with individual spiritual evolution on the scale at which Hicks was operating on. Cell mutation was bound to destroy his body. No one can get away with spilling grandiose (r)evolutionary thoughts out on stage in front of too many people. at least not in this particular niche in human history. No one in contemporary society who attempts the wholesale rewriting of reality on a grand scale, thus thrusting sleeping human drones into the rude-awakening, the realization that they are sentient beings, can possibly hope to survive for very long. The nature of awakening won't allow it. This necessarily means that Bill Hicks had to die. He probably knew he couldn't last long on Earth, thus leading him on the path to early success. He took one for the human race like a suicide mind-bomber. No time to waste.
My theory is that, in order to keep itself balanced, the physical plane of nature provides for evolution with natural selection, and in the same way, the spiritual plane of pure thought-energy provides for evolution by a similar slow gradual process in the transformation of consciousness. What neither of these planes can deal with are surges or leaps that upset the delicate precise balance needed for change to be properly accepted. Bill Hicks upset that balance in the spiritual plane of thought-energy. The spiritual plane requires gradual transformation. Remember those "Travellers" in Dune? Hicks' body, had we had the technology to sustain his life even with pancreatic cancer, would've eventually transformed into a big-worm blob with female genitalia for a nose and mouth. Or remember the uni-cellular globule that William Hurt was about to turn into in Altered States? That would've been Hicks. Yes, he was just a comedian, but he was more than that. He was a prophet, a soothsayer, a mystic, a guru. and he was all of these things in the form of a traveling urban gypsy with no use for anything but a microphone, some lights, a little music, a stage, and some open minds. He was getting through to the masses, the general populace, the common man and woman, impregnating people with unimaginable thoughts of Debbie Gibson, George Michaels, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Clinton, and George and Barbara Bush. Thoughts like those of Hicks being amplified and spread across audiences like Agent Orange, defoliating the jungle that had been growing out of control in everyone's mind blocking the sunlight of truth, justice, unhindered thought, and the infinite human potential to achieve. thoughts like those, when unleashed, will, of course, cause havoc and even premature revolution which could be damaging to the human race. Although Leary ripped off a handful of Bill's bits, what no one could ever take away from Hicks was his outstanding presence and incredible ability to put the impossible into the proper spoken language for everyone to understand. This ability to speak the unspeakable, to turn minds on to new revolutionary channels through spoken communication. this would be Hicks' undoing. The Natural Powers That Be weren't ready for the spiritual revolution proposed by Mr. Hicks in the same way Hendrix couldn't survive for long. an artist Hicks frequently referred to when wanting to make a point in regards to directly tapping the soul, heart, balls. whatever deep part you wanna think of (the G-spot for the ladies, perhaps?)
We desperately need the voice of Bill Hicks today. His words from albums such as Dangerous and Rant in E-minor ring truer today than ever before. Acid Logic readers who haven't yet had a taste of Hicks should immediately put down the crack pipe and take off their clown make-up. get out there and buy a Hicks album. Bill Hicks is our generation's Jesus Christ.
had to die for our sins.
NOTE: almost all basic factual information about Bill Hicks' life was taken from a biography written by Cynthia True called, "American Scream: the Bill Hicks story" published in 2002.
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