Sloover’s Election Endorsements for Nov 5 2019 in Pennsylvania/Allegheny Co/Pittsburgh**

Believe it or not, sometimes local politics can be exciting. I’m excited, for example, to cast votes for Lisa Middleman for Allegheny County DA, Bethany Hallam for Allegheny County Council, and Chelsa Wagner for Allegheny County Controller. Sometimes local politics can be depressing. I’m not casting a vote in many of these races because less than two people bothered to run.

The corporate media doesn’t give a shit about local elections unless it’s paid to. In real life, local politics are more important than national politics if people truly want to change things. The citizenry has direct access and more influence in what happens, if they choose to participate. That’s why corporations never talk about local politics in their media. Nobody wants you to get together with your neighbors and change things. That would be dangerous. They want you to sit at home and go on Twitter and show what a good person you are by how much you bitch about bad politicians. Don’t you dare go knock on the door of your local representative’s office and bitch about potholes right in his face. That’ll cut into his time receiving money from rich people.

It would be nice if we would receive daily, adult-level discussion about local candidates and issues, moderated by hot local news ladies and handsome local news men. Even if you enjoy practicing the ancient art of literacy, goddamned newspapers barely write about local elections. Journalism is dead, stomped out and replaced by sensationalism and paid advertising, the only forms of information delivery allowed by corporate media. I use the term information loosely. Bullshit was once food… for a bull — and it’s still technically edible. But would you call it food? The corporate media feeds you shit, and, especially if you watch Fox News or MSNBC or CNN, you eat it.

Citizens who want to be informed before entering the ballot box, especially in odd-numbered years, have to dig for information online and do hours of research themselves. Many citizens don’t have the time or skills.

So once again I’m volunteering this public service to my neighbors.

How to Find Out About Your Local Elections
1. Enter your home address into Ballotpedia’s Sample Ballot Lookup.  You will then get a list of all the elections, ballot referendums, and candidates you’ll have to choose from on your upcoming election day
2. You can click on the candidates’ names for a brief summary
3. Most likely you will have to Google the candidate to get enough information, such as their campaign website. That’s where some candidates tell you where they stand on issues
4. Google the issues on the off-chance that a journalist wrote an article about them for an ailing publication

I changed my mind to NO on the Parks Trust Fund

Ballot Measures

Statewide: Pennsylvania Marsy’s Law Crime Victims Rights Amendment (2019)

My vote: No

Reasons: This measure is on the ballot in the first place because a billionaire wants it to be there. He spent $6 million to pay for this. Even if I agreed with it, the fact that a ballot measure gets to happen because guy with a mountain of cash wants it is a dumb way to run a democracy. The billionaire is Henry Nicholas and he’s well intended. This law won’t make him richer as far as I can tell. His sister Marsy was tragically shot to death by a psycho ex boyfriend in 1983. The text of the ballot measure reads:

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to grant certain rights to crime victims, including to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity; considering their safety in bail proceedings; timely notice and opportunity to take part in public proceedings; reasonable protection from the accused; right to refuse discovery requests made by the accused; restitution and return of property; proceedings free from delay; and to be informed of these rights, so they can enforce them?[

Of course this thing is going to pass with language like that. The only problem is, this will have unintended consequences that possibly go against the US Constitution and the rights of the accused, the language is too vague which will tie up the courts, and it increases the likelihood that someone falsely accused could be convicted. It could also have the opposite effect from the intention and make the legal system even more tangled and sluggish. The ACLU opposes it. Andy Hoover explains:

The proposed Marsy’s Law constitutional amendment runs afoul of the protections granted to those subject to the power of the state. The new guarantees in this proposal include a victim’s right to refuse “an interview, deposition or other discovery request” sought by counsel for a defendant. Think about that: A person’s freedom is on the line in a trial, and Marsy’s Law would prohibit them from having the necessary information that could prove their innocence or mitigate the severity of their sentence. That person’s right to a fair trial would be lost, and with it, the chances for grave miscarriages of justice to occur increase.

If lawmakers truly cared about victims’ rights, they’d take their time to craft a law that adheres to the US Constitution, instead of pushing through some vaguely worded decree from a billionaire.

Citywide: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Home Rule Charter Amendment for Parks Trust Fund

For a more in-depth look at this issue, see this Pittsburgh Current article by Charlie Dietch, an actual journalist who knows more than me about things.

Full Text:

Shall the Pittsburgh Home Rule Charter be amended to establish a dedicated Parks Trust Fund beginning in 2020 to: improve, maintain, create and operate public parks; improve park safety; equitably fund parks in underserved neighborhoods throughout Pittsburgh; be funded with an additional 0.5 mill levy ($50 on each $100,000 of assessed real estate value); secure matching funds and services from a charitable city parks conservancy; and assure citizen participation and full public disclosure of spending?

My vote: I GUESS.. (yes)  **update 11/2/19: Fuck it I changed my mind.. NO

Reasons: I’m happy that my tax dollars go to parks. I like to hike and sit and read, and by just doing that make super whitebread people worry that I’m a drug-addled homeless guy who wants to eat their children. But the city never spends the money the way they say they’re going to. I like that last part, “assure citizen participation and full public disclosure of spending”. It’s probably bullshit, but curiosity as to how they’re going to skirt that part is killing me, so I’m voting Yes. I’m voting No. Property is getting too expensive too fast around here anyway, and this will give landlords an excuse to raise rent. Plus, when they inevitably squander the funds on other bullshit, it’ll give me something to bitch about. I’m keeping an eye on the parks if this passes. I can’t wait to complain on Twitter to Mayor Peduto, who I’m pretty sure muted me years ago.

Statewide Election

Candidates for Pennsylvania Superior Court (choose 2)

My vote: the two Democrats

Reasons: Dan McCaffery grew up in a union house and he’s endorsed by all the unions. By law, candidates for judge can’t be all political and make speeches, so you have to go by who is endorsing them and whether or not you like the endorser’s politics. I hesitate to vote for Amanda Green-Hawkins because she was a Clinton Superdelegate, but her and my county, Allegheny, picked Clinton in the primary, so that’s how she should have cast her vote anyway. I love how every Clinton “stan” (I hate that stupid word) says the electoral college sucks, but the shitty oligarchical DNC Superdelegate system is just fine. But Amanda Green-Hawkins is more than qualified, and she’s endorsed by unions and Planned Parenthood, so she gets my vote.

Countywide Elections

Allegheny County Treasurer

My vote: abstaining

Reason: There’s only one guy running. I don’t vote for candidates who don’t have challengers. It’s dumb. Although I have a prediction for you: Democratic Incumbent John Weinstein will be re-elected.

Allegheny County Executive

Candidates:

  • Rich Fitzgerald (D) (Incumbent)
  • Matt Drozd (R)

My vote: abstaining

Reasons: This is a perfect example of why 21st century American elections are depressing and why people don’t vote. We have on the “left”, a fossil fuel corporate whore Democrat. And his opponent, a right-wing nutcase.

Let’s examine the right wing nutcase first. When Matt Drozd ran for the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States in New Hampshire in 2016, among 30 other candidates, he didn’t expect to win. According to his campaign website that consists of a single graphic with pics of him and his kids, he’s not expecting to now.  Drozd is a former member of the Allegheny County council where he became famous for proposing that Western Pennsylvania secede from the state and become its own state. He’s going to lose because he’s a shithead and he’s not even trying.

Rich Fitzgerald is why I hate the Democratic Party The guy spends half his time helping the fossil fuel industry plunder our resources and send the planet into climate catastrophe through fracking. Then he goes on TV with his slick little campaign commercial and talks about “cutting carbon emissions” with a straight face. That’s reason enough for me never to cast a vote for him. Climate change is real, and we have to stop these companies from burning more fossil fuels. To heck with Rich Fitzgerald, gosh darn it, and to heck with this farce of an election. But “Vote Blue no Matter Who” rapes the environment and helps usher in the destruction of the species. Greta Thunberg should choke Rich Fitzgerald out with her Swiss Miss braids.

Allegheny County District Attorney

Candidates:

My vote: Lisa Middleman

Lisa Middleman for Allegheny Co DA

Reasons: Unlike the above sham election, this one has an actual human being running. Zappala has to go. People had to march in the streets to get him to bring criminal homicide charges against East Pittsburgh Officer Michael Rosfeld after he shot 17 year old Antwon Rose in the back and killed him (Rosefeld was later acquitted, of course). The ethically challenged incumbent DA threw four teenagers in jail, ranging in age from 15-18, for 15 months before their names were cleared in a murder case. So he basically kidnapped four children, the dick. And this is just the tip of the iceberg with this guy.

Lisa Middleman is running as an Independent so YAY that’s one less Democrat I have to vote for. She’s endorsed by Democracy For America, an organization that endorsed Bernie Sanders for president in 2016, and backed “The Squad” as well as other young, sane candidates across the USA who are sick of this bullshit. She’s also endorsed by Pittsburgh NORML, SEIU, and UE. The first item on her platform, as a prosecutor, is END MASS INCARCERATION.

Allegheny County Council (Choose 2)

Candidates: (there are only 2 to choose from)

Bethany Hallam for Allegheny Co Council

My vote: Bethany Hallam only

Reasons: Right on her frickin bio she tells you she was an opiate addict who was locked up in Allegheny County jail for 5 months. She primaried the old Dem guard by running an honest campaign where she used her past to talk about the opioid crisis and other issues like transit access, criminal justice reform, taking on UPMC and Highmark, and environmental issues. Here is her entire opinion on one environmental issue.

“Fracking: No”

Hopefully one day she’ll unseat the fossil fuel whore and become County Executive. Bethany Hallam is the Yinzer AOC. Check out her appearance on the Pittsburgh Current Podcast. I’m glad we have her.

 

Allegheny County Controller

Candidates:

My vote: Chelsa Wagner

badass

Reasons: Because Chelsa Wagner is awesome. There’s no way I’m not voting for her. Wagner was elected in 2012, the year I moved back home to Pittsburgh from North Carolina. Trying to catch up on local politics, I watched a couple of her hearings and I was like, who the fuck is this badass lady? She did what a County Controller is supposed to do, get in there and kick everyone’s ass. Chelsa went after UPMC for the fact that they’re an empire weaseling out of property and other taxes by acting like a charity. She released a report called “Property Tax Exemptions” that detailed how much money UPMC is sucking out of the region. (Check out Carnegie Steel and UPMC: Philanthropy and Social Control by me).  And more reasons from Wikipedia:

Wagner made her office the first in Allegheny County government to provide paid family leave, an example which was followed by the County administration and the City of Pittsburgh[13], and instituted a $15 per hour minimum wage for her employees.[14]

Citywide Elections

Note: the Pittsburgh Public School District I’m in, #9, is not up for grabs this year. But I decided to write about them for the benefit of my neighbors. There’s only one real contested seat out of the 4 anyway.

Pittsburgh School District Board of Directors District 8

I would vote: abstaining

Reason: one guy running

Pittsburgh School District Board of Directors District 6

I would vote: abstaining

Reason: one guy running

Pittsburgh School District Board of Directors District 4

I would vote: abstaining

Reason: one lady running against herself (this is due to the fact that you can cross register to run in both the Democratic and Republican primaries for School Board, and she won both primaries)

Pittsburgh School District Board of Directors District 2

I would vote: Devon Taliaferro

Reasons: Like the above lady running against herself, Kirk Rys ran in both primaries and lost against Devon Taliaferro on the (D) side, but won on the (R) side. Rys is a transplant who works at BNY Mellon, has degrees from Pitt in Law and Public Policy, and sits on the boards of an affordable housing organization and a soup kitchen He seems like a great dude. The reason I would vote for Devon is she was born, raised, and lives in this district. She has plenty of community credentials. While Rys perspective shouldn’t be ignored, and will probably help the district’s schools, I would just trust a grass roots perspective more than an outside one if this was my neighborhood.

Pittsburgh City Controller

My vote: abstaining

Reason: one guy running

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Letter from my Granddad to his oldest son, Uncle Johnny, about his experience in World War II

Dear Johnny,                                                                                             11-16-56

I will try to answer your questions about my war experiences as well as I can remember. I was in an infantry Division of the 106th and was in the 422nd regiment of that division. We landed in France the first part of December, 1944 coming from England. We made our way through France and Belgium and took up our positions in the Ardennes Forest on the frontier of Luxemburg. This was supposed to be a quiet sector given us because we were a new, inexperienced division.

We lived in cabins and had hot food, and the scenery was beautiful for a few days. Then in the early hours of December 16th the Germans attacked with a heavy barrage. This was the beginning of General Von Rundstedt’s winter offensive against the allies. The heaviest weight of the German army was directed at our division, so we were greatly outnumbered.

The battle lasted two hectic days and nights. We had no food or water and our ammunition was running low. Rather than be completely wiped out, the officers decided to surrender. We were ordered to destroy all our rifles and other equipment that could be of any use to the Germans.

After the surrender, the Germans marched us for three days without food. We were then herded into box cars, about sixty men in a car, and travelled for ten days. This is where I spent my Christmas in 1944, but we managed to sing a few choruses of “Silent Night”. We were taken to a prison camp called Stalog IV-B, but were soon moved to Stalog IV-D near Halle, Germany where we remained until liberation. On the whole we were well treated, though we didn’t get very much to eat, but the Germans themselves didn’t have much at this time. About sixty fellows were in one barracks, and we got along pretty good. They were mostly with some Frenchmen and a few English. We worked on the railroad mostly pick and shovel work. We got Sunday off.

We were paid in German money which was absolutely worthless, and we couldn’t buy a thing with it. We didn’t get anything to eat in the morning or all day. When we returned to the barracks after work, we were given a bowl of their potato soup and bread and something that resembled coffee. When you are hungry, anything tastes good. Across the road from the camp there was a field where carrots were growing. We took turns going over the wall when the hunger pains got too bad and helped ourselves to some carrots. Toward the end of February, the allied planes started coming over, and we had quite a few air raids. War prisoners and citizens alike made for the air-raid shelter. We got some pretty bad scares. The city of Halle was just about bombed off the map.

Since we were captured towards the end of the war, conditions were bad all over Germany. The railroads got bombed out, and the people didn’t have enough food to eat. We got about three Red Cross packages, but since we weren’t used to eating, we just got sick. We never did get any mail. I wrote some cards and letters to your mother which she didn’t receive until April and May. I was glad I had my Army overcoat because we weren’t issued any clothing.

About the end of March we could hear heavy guns in the distance. We didn’t know if they were allies or the Germans. We heard that President Roosevelt had died, but we didn’t believe it. Around the 23rd or 24th of April the Germans marched all the P.W.’s to a large wooded area and turned us over to the Allies. We were given over to the Fighting 69th Division. Those G.I.’s looked like angels from heaven. They treated us like kings and gave us cigarettes and good food. I felt like I was in a different world. I had lost quite a bit of weight, down to about 130, but by the time I got home on June 13th, I was in pretty good shape. I stayed at Naumburg, Germany for about three weeks, then was flown to Le Havre, France. Then I was shipped to Boston by boat.

“I guess your old Dad wasn’t any war hero, but I wouldn’t want to live through those months again.”

We were never really mistreated as P.W.’s. The Germans guarding us were mostly older soldiers since all the young soldiers we needed at the front. If they could have got food they probably would have shared it with us. We heard mass about twice. A French priest was allowed to come in and hear confessions a couple of times. Chaplains are officers and are put in different places from enlisted men. The Catholics gathered together and recited the rosary. I was one of the few men who had a prayer book and I passed it around. I had that prayer to the Sacred Heart which we say in the evening after the rosary.

So I guess your old Dad wasn’t any war hero, but I wouldn’t want to live through those months again. I didn’t see any heroics in our division. We fought the best way we knew how, and did what we were ordered to do. That’s war. I was attached to a company that fired heavy mortar guns. I also carried a rifle. One of the men on a mortar gun near me was killed. It might have been me except for the help of God.

7,001 men in our division were taken prisoner. The rest were killed, so I guess I am lucky to be here at all. I hope that answers some questions son.

Love,

Your Dad

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Chomsky vs. Pearle 1988

This shit put me on fire during the Bush administration when I was a farmer. I remember hearing this going into town to get gas during the gas price hikes in what year was it, like 2005-06? I downloaded this into my mp3 player and listened to it while i did farm work

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This is how people should be

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The Fall

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1979 AFC Championship: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Houstin Oilers, Myron Cope and Jack Flemming calling

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Hanging out in Bars and Talking to People is Revolutionary

We have a toxic media culture. We have to get away from media and hang out in fucking bars and talk. And be individuals and not repeating machines.

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Left wing academics write fake, ridiculous papers that are accepted into academic journals

 

…thus exposing how ridiculous and “problematic” PC culture has become.. for anyone who wants progress.

Who it’s great for is the right wing and Trump followers.

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Fuck yeah Onion

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Free Speech and Comedy History at the National Comedy Center’s Grand Opening

The grand opening of the National Comedy Center was held August 1-5 in Jamestown, a small town in western New York just a short drive from Pittsburgh. The event coincided with the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. Block parties, live podcast tapings, comedy shows at a small club decorated as Ricky Ricardo’s Tropicana Room, and live concerts featuring Lily Tomlin and Amy Schumer were among the many events booked for the four-day celebration.

At any point during the long weekend, a festival goer could walk in to a small corner space called the Podcast Lounge and watch Judy Gold interview Laraine Newman for her podcast “Kill Me Now”, or see Kelly Carlin along with comedian Paul Provenza interview her very stoned and funny uncle Pat Carlin for the National Comedy Center’s official podcast. They could go to the tiny Tropicana Room late at night and watch comics do a “Set List Live” show of improvised stand-up. They could turn around on a random street corner and see George Shapiro, executive producer of Seinfeld and Andy Kaufman’s manager. They could see Bridget Everett headline Amy Schumer’s own show and end her set by sitting on a guy’s face.

photo by Steve Neilans, Marketing and Communications, National Comedy Center

At a panel discussion at the Robert H. Jackson Center entitled “Comedy and the First Amendment”, Lewis Black is getting laughs.

The topic is the obscenity trials of Lenny Bruce in the early 1960s. Bruce was arrested and charged with obscenity four times between 1961 and 1964 in San Francisco, West Hollywood, Chicago, and New York. The cops would go to Bruce’s gigs, jot down his jokes as he told them, and the prosecution would present that as evidence. As a result, juries heard Bruce’s jokes without context.

“Lenny gets nailed because the cop reads his jokes,” says Lewis Black. “Watch people do ‘comedy karaoke’ at the National Comedy Center and just destroy material. And these are people who love those comics. You got cops who arrested this guy and want him nailed, so they’re reading it bub-a-bah bub-a-bub.”

Illustrating his point, it’s just not as funny reading the above text as it is seeing Black perform it. The signature Lewis Black shouting, the pointing, the timing, the decades of experience as a comedic craftsman has the audience howling.

CNN’s Stephen Morrison moderated the panel which also featured First Amendment lawyer Paul Cambria, famous for representing Larry Flynt in the Hustler obscenity trial, and Lenny’s daughter Kitty Bruce, founder of the Lenny Bruce Memorial Foundation, which provides financial aid for treatment to those suffering from drug addiction.

Cambria spoke about the legal history of free speech:

“There are always those puritans that are in power, and they are the ones who are responsible for the oppression of free speech. They are the ‘holier-than-thous.’ For the average adult, [the attitude is] ‘I allow you to be different from me’. For us, that’s the essence of the First Amendment: difference. Does the average adult find this [media] acceptable for another adult? And if the answer is ‘Yes’, the law goes away. The law is pushed back. Let us be free, let us be adults, let us have differences of opinion.”

Kitty Bruce spoke about the harassment her father faced from the police and legal system, up to the time of his death at the age of 40.

“He gets convicted of three counts, and for each count he gets four months in the workhouse. And he’s fighting not to get locked up. During this time, he overdoses and he dies. In the same state that brought charges against him, in 2003, Governor Pataki pardoned my father. And that pardon is in the National Comedy Center. So he’s still talking, and he’s still here, and in the end, they still can’t shut him up.”

Because of boundary-pushers like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin (also arrested in 1972 and charged with obscenity after a performance in Milwaukee), comedians no longer face a prison sentence for dirty jokes, publishers can sell a book filled with poems referencing sex and not be arrested for it like Lawrence Ferlinghetti was for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s Howl in 1956, and American adults can watch porn on the internet that makes Hustler look like a ladies’ underwear ad from the 1800s.

The headliner of the four day event was the National Comedy Center itself, a 37,000-square-foot space made up of a newly constructed building connected to Jamestown’s old train station. The NCC experience is very high-tech and interactive, more like a Carnegie Science Center of comedy rather than a comedy “hall of fame”.

Kelly Carlin, who donated a massive amount of her father George Carlin’s stuff to the center and was deeply involved in its creation, was adamant about this point. “It is NOT a comedy hall of fame. UGH. It is called the National Comedy Center. We all hate the notion of hall of fame places.”

Comedy artifacts are on display, like Joan Rivers’ gown, Andy Kaufman’s Elvis jacket, and Rodney Dangerfield’s black bag full of set lists, but it’s also a place where visitors can understand the comedy craft while studying its history in over 50 engaging, interactive exhibits. We spent hours there and didn’t come close to seeing everything.

The George Carlin exhibit is the crown jewel of the center. It consists of thousands of his personal files, which he obsessively categorized and sub-categorized. Using a touch-screen, the visitor can see how Carlin’s legendary stand up shows were created from scratch, using newspaper clippings with paragraphs circled, ads cut out from magazines with hand-written comments, thoughts jotted down onto scraps of paper and placed into zip lock bags, then organized into file folders labeled with subjects such as “religion”, “America”, “race”, “filth” and “fart jokes”.

Other exhibits include:

–          The Hologram Theater, where the creepy e-ghost of Jim Gaffigan takes the visitor through his personal development as a stand up comic

–          Laugh Battle, where the object is to make your opponent laugh by telling a joke through a face recognition system that detects smiles

–          Benches with built in whoopee cushions that make loud fart noises through a speaker

–          A game where the object is hit the right sound effect at the right time while watching a scene from the Three Stooges

–          The aforementioned comedy karaoke, where you pick a joke from a famous comedian and read it from a teleprompter on stage (I picked Mitch Hedberg’s bit, “Dufrane party of two”, and bombed)

Another highlight is the Blue Room, dedicated to “blue” or vulgar comedy. After taking an elevator down a floor, visitors are greeted by a trigger warning to ward off young children and sensitive adults who might be permanently harmed. As the visitors enter through the doors, they are greeted by George Carlin’s infamous “seven dirty words”, very large and prominent and in many different languages. The Lenny Bruce exhibit is there where it belongs, as well as videos about Richard Pryor’s career, and little doors in a wall where, when opened, reveal dirty jokes and some of R. Crumb’s most pornographic work.

Fifty two years after Lenny Bruce’s death, entertainers can’t be arrested for blue comedy. They can only lose multi-million dollar contracts or their entire careers. Recently, movie producer James Gunn fired by Disney, the company that makes children’s movies with subliminal cartoon penises, after a fake outrage campaign orchestrated by a right wing Youtuber dug up old pedo jokes on his Twitter account. Helen Crimmins, the wife of the late comedy pioneer and anti-child porn crusader Barry Crimmins, defended Gunn, saying in an Instagram post “Barry would have fully supported James Gunn. He would have thought his jokes were terrible but he would have known they were exactly that; jokes.”

In 2011, Gilbert Gottfried was fired from a lucrative job as a duck for making jokes about the tsunami that hit Japan that year. As a result, long-time fans of Gottfried wondered, “Why did Aflac fire him for those jokes? Were they unaware of his previous material?”

Our bizarre, disorienting media culture blurs the line between entertainment and reality, between jokes and hate speech, between journalism and propaganda, between pushing the boundaries out to allow for more freedom of expression and pushing them back in to suppress voices that make the suppressors uncomfortable.

Now could be the perfect time for an education in comedy history and appreciation of comedy as an art form with a unique power to stitch societal wounds.

“The world needs to laugh,” says Kelly Carlin. “And most importantly, we need to learn to laugh together.”

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