June 3, 2011

Why Jon Stewart Prolly Won’t Give EJ the Time of Day: Love Leads the Way

First, a few words from my unofficial sponsors:

I’m not aware of too many things, I know what I know, if you know what I mean. – Edie Brickell

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.- James Joyce

The ultimate mystery is one’s own self.  – Sammy Davis, Jr.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them. – Sojorner Truth

That which is to give Light must endure burning. – Victor Frankl

Sunshine is my quest. – Winston Churchill

Love is the basis of the Universe. – Amma

NOTA BENE: My humble apologies first to my Creator in Heaven and next to you, dear readers, for that collosal piece of crap article I penned called Guide to Dating a Yoga Goddess: Damsels, Dharma, & Distress. You know that one that stirred up all that trouble round here? I confess, I wrote it in 20 minutes flat, high as a kite on the “wacky tabaky”, as my mother calls it. I believe subconsciously my healing Momus heart was trying to see how much malarkey Yogaland here in the West would actually ingest. Turns out a whole helluva lot though some of you were on to the Charade. Everybody plays the Fool, sometimes. I suppose it was mildly amusing, here and there, but my Higher Self knows better. Heartfelt gratitude to Anne Bogart, NYU Theater Professor, Director and author of A Director Prepares, for reminding me , “Artists are individuals willing to articulate in the face of flux and transformation.”  Also, to the reader who called me a “Buffon” and the reader who called me a “ Princess”, I am, for the record, at once something much smaller and much greater than both of those things and neither of those things all at once. As it goes, I’m a work in progress and God is not finished with me yet. And the beat goes on…..

My first piece of inspiration for writing this piece are the words of George Eliot, who said:  “A difference of taste in jokes is a tremendous strain on the affections.” Does anyone even know who George Eliot is anymore or that he is actually a she? This breaks my heart a little, as annoying as that may be to sensible people who have no use for the the English and their “strained affections”.  My nickname in college was “Old English”, so while yoga has unwound my mind and body quite a bit, the Soul of a persnickety Old English lady still mills about in this vessel of mine. Thankfully, I have discovered I also have an African soul and  Jewish soul and a yogi Spirit in here to balance her out, among others. We are vast we contain multitudes indeed. It’s truly a wonder my head has not popped off yet.

Moving along, I should note that it has recently come to my attention that my mother and Jon Stewart’s mother live a stone’s throw away from each other in the town of Lawrenceville in the Garden State. This leads me to believe that they probably eat at the same Chinese food restaurant, there’s only one, and that just makes me smile, to think that they might have bumped into each other over egg rolls.

Clearly EJ readers love Jon Stewart—what’s not to love?  Having been a PR puppet for a stretch, I can’t help but try to figure out some way to get Waylon & Friends on The Daily Show— but  for some reason I always end up getting interrupted mid daydream by Hall n’ Oats singing “ I can’t go for that”.

It seems to me that what the major obstacle ( quick, go rub Ganesha’s belly) between EJ and The Daily Show really boils down to is that the stuff that comes outta New Jersey is generally way funnier than stuff that comes outta Colorado. Those are the tough breaks, kids. Don’t’ call us, we’ll call you. Just reporting the facts, Mr. Lewis. I mean, I haven’t taken a poll or anything—I’m just goin’ out on a limb here, but being a “Jersey Fresh” piece of produce myself, like brother Jon, I think it’s safe to say that this is at least partially true in terms of what makes it on to Jon’s radar. I betcha he doesn’t read The Cosmic Path but maybe he should consider adding it to his list of news sources at this point.  Yesterday’s report was something about how we’re all entering an intergallactic “wormhole”. Perfect fodder for the Stewart snark machine.

Obviously there are funny people everywhere, I’m simply suggesting that New York and New Jersey have been a laboratory of comedic genius for quite some time now and the wholesome, salt of the Earth, eco-friendly, hugger mugger sensibilities that Colorado cultivates just might not cut the mustard in the funny department in Jon’s world. Of course, New Jerseyites and New Yorkers also tend to believe that New York is the center of the Universe, which probably really and, rightfully so, annoys  the good people of Colorado. But we’re working towards non-duality and Oneness, here on this Planet Earf aren’t we?  And wouldn’t it be great if Jon’s “Moments of Zen” expanded into, lets say, some, oh I dunno, “ShalOM in the Home” segments with some heavy hitting yogis? I could see Dharma Mittra doin some yoga with Jon, though I don’t know if Dharma even does TV appearances. I’ll have to look into that.

By now I’m sure you are all itching for some more proof that I’m any kind of authority on this subject  other than my self-proclaimed “Yoga Goddess” status. Snore.After that mess, I would expect you’d need at least some evidence, perhaps some professional references,  that I’m a real person with a working brain who has had real jobs.Well, let’s see. The proof’s in the pudding really, but let’s see… you need a C.V., don’t you. Vell,  before I ran off and joined the yoga circus, I did serve time in a different dog n’ pony show known as New Jersey politics. I was an Editor at the Office of Legislative Services in Trenton, (whatever waste of tax payers’ money that place is) and later a Press Secretary for Mercer County Executive Robert D. Prunetti. He has informed me he does yoga now, so we’re making progress over there in Trenton Makes the World Takes neck of the woods.  And here’s a photo of me somewhere back when I played hide and seek with reporters, sleeping during a press conference with George W. Bush.

I remain as apolitical now as I was then. But I did absorb some of that world and have been party to far too many political schmooze fests in New Jersey in my day,–small talk, cheap talk, bogus board meetings, cacophonous conference calls, happy hours, the whole nine yards.  I was also a PR puppet for Comcast for a stretch, a job where I was informed that if I wanted to move up in the company I should seriously consider taking up golf.  I think I responded by belting out “Bye, Bye, Birdie” much to the bewilderment of my boss. That world seems very far away these days, thank the Lord.

I think its safe to say, too, Waylon, that I know more Jews and Italians in New York and New Jersey, at that just means nothing really, except that I’m somehow better positioned on this World’s Stage to pitch schtuff to Jon than maybe whoever it is who does your pitching . As for the New York Italians in my corner, don’t worry, they’re not Mobbed up. At least not that I know of.

New Jersey is an inherently funny place .I rarely meet anyone from New Jersey who isn’t a least a little funny simply by virtue of being from New Jersey. I think it must be because New Jersey is one of the most paradoxical places on the planet and perhaps that’s what makes the people from New Jersey primed as producers of parody with an eye for the absurd. Anyway, we all know Jon is The Major Leagues. And most of y’all here at Elephant Journal probably don’t even eat hot dogs. Tofurky dogs, maybe. In my experience working with the media and being a first-class recovering bullshit artist myself, in order for EJ to play ball with brother Jon, there’s gotta be first some more Zeppolis, definitely some more hip-hop, maybe some Hava Nagela and just some more moxie, in general, which I sense is not yet a part of the EJ song and dance. Yet!

If we Eastern minded, mala-bead toting, Om Shanti chanting, green smoothie chugging denizens of planet Earf are gonna pedal our wares and our sage smudging, fire spinning and new moon ceremonies over there (over there… there’s a man with a gun over there!) we gotta suit up and meet Jon where he is. Plus, there’s simply not enough edge in the sound of Elephant Journal either, I’m afraid, at least not for the big man on Campus to bite. I mean, say it out loud, quickly. Elephant Journal. Pitch it to, say, Holly Hunter’s character in Broadcast News. Neurotically chew your pencil, chug your coffee, pretend you’re on deadline at The New York Times. Elephant Who? Or imagine pitching the good Elephant News to the happy chaps at The Journal of Foreign Affairs or The Wall Street Journal. Or how bout ( gulp) FOX News? Let’s face it, we yogis are generally still too soft and slow and smooshy and way too metaphysical for most of the wound-up world to want to digest– its gotta be repackaged perhaps even camouflaged. I mean, try serving up some Om Namah Shiviya to The Marines. Or better yet–Sarah Palin.  We yogis on a mission are still not reaching large segments of the population — most likely because we still exist in a patriarchal society that quite possibly runs on sex and cigarettes, as one of my compatriots recently reminded me. I had to blast Bjork for a few hours followed by Herbert Howells to cleanse my palette after a consideration of that possibility. But as Rudyard Kipling wrote, ‘  East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.” I think we’ve proven dear Kipling wrong on many fronts but we’ve only just begun. Cue The Carpenters.  There’s still a lot of work to be done. I thank you Waylon, for your fearless leadership avec umbrella.

So, EJ-ites, I think we can work together to present Jon with a really big package of  Yoga-to-Go that he might very well dig. Can you imagine how stressed out his staff must be? How much coffee they drink?  We’d be able to reach a lotta stiffs if we could build some bridges and castles in the air and islands in the stream with Brother Jon ,in the name of Love.I’m here to help bridge the gaps. Like Rocky said, “She’s got gaps, I’ve got gaps… together we fill the gaps.”

In the name of Love, Light, and comedy tonight, I’ll be the  liaison between Jon’s world and Elephant Journal world, hands across the water-style. Besides, I’m pretty sure John Lennon is not very happy right now on his Cloud, you know. I reckon we need to set off a veritable Love bomb in this world—Weapons of Mass Compassion, really, to dissolve prejudice and whatever it is that keeps us thinking that anyone is any different than anyone else.

Brother John is not picking up what we’re  laying down because this stuff needs to get translated and dressed up or dressed down, I’m not sure which, but it needs another flava. Perhaps if we serve it up with a dash of Motown Philly back again. Or with a side of Sinatra and Staten Island sauce. Or a piece of Brooklyn braciole. Or with the pizzaz of Jersey jazz hands, as in, the hand gestures ladies who do Jazzercize in New Jersey make.  I figure once we do the yoga hokey pokey for the People, show ’em what its all about, maybe then, the bogie par par bogie par par crowd can slowly but surely work on passing legislation to get alternative therapies and medicine, which are preventative and cost-effective, covered by insurance. That’s part of the dream along with bringing the yoga and Eastern healing practices to places where the Sun don’t shine. Otherwise, yogis are just going to continue to talk to yogis about yoga instead of reaching a wider audience of underserved communities and xenophobic rich folks who need it most.

Another something to consider, folks, is that John Stewart also has a lot of theater up his sleeve that most yogis don’t. Except maybe Edward Clark, Kathryn Budig (my dear friend  from high school), and yours truly. It makes a difference when you’re trying to push the yoga jawn to the big boys in suits to have at your disposal an arsenal of theatrics up your asana. For shits n’ giggles. With the likes of Edward Clark, and Kathryn Budig and some other cats and dogs, yogis, writers and thespians I have waiting in the wings, we could do some serious yogi damage at The Daily, with a wink and a smile. The play’s still the thing, I hear.

As we prepare to march these Elephants in the direction of brother Jon, I think we also need to be honest with ourselves as yogis that there’s another Elephant in the yoga room besides Ganesha. It’s a little game I like to play when I go to classes or workshops (or visit Canada) called, “Count the Black People“. We all know by now that Yoga is still in most of the West a white person‘s endeavor. That’s just the way it is right now. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but in general, yoga in the West is still mostly very white. I think it’s important to acknowledge that these gaps exist, and why. Yoga is still largely irrelevant to most of the U.S. of A. in your Chevrolet since 1 in 5 people in this country live on under $1 a day. So it is still difficult for “yoga” as a therapeutic practice to make a difference in this world when an average class is $12 and workshops at least $100 a pop. So there’s that mountain to climb as well. Cue Julie Andrews.

Another reason why all things Elephant Journal may have not made it to any one of Jon’s many Bunsen burners is that Jon really has a heart aligned with people on the ground, healing this world from the ground up, the people most vulnerable, most in need, the people busting their asses in this country, day in and day out, people for whom yoga is likely not a household word, who don’t shop at Whole Foods and who don’t know who Quinoa is. Keen-who?

In these precarious times, we know that Yoga is one avenue of increasing consciousness among the walking dead and perhaps most importantly among the people in power who are making decisions that affect the quality of life in this country and  in the world . The gaps between the haves and the have nots has never been bigger. To me, yoga for politicians is as important as setting up yoga and healing centers in the hood. I’m thinkin’ that the more people who have a lot of money do yoga, the more open their heart chakras will be, and the more willing they will be to part with their lucci for the good of the globe. And in terms of healing the hearts of the world, yoga is a powerful practice that can encourage the wound up Western mind to remove the Western goggles for a moment and to experience life through another looking glass altogether. Curiouser and curiouser. Imagine no possessions. It’s easy if you try. Beyond that,  yoga is just good for your health, no matter what you believe or don’t believe. And once you learn it, you have tools to balance  mind, body, and spirit for Life.

So, how great would it be  to get Sarah Palin to hold a Warrior pose for 20 minutes wearing a shirt that says “I LOVE CARIBOU”?   The pipe dream continues with an mini-Yoga class on The Daily Show starring John Oliver, Jon Stewart, Sarah Palin, Snookie, Karl Rove, Kanye West, Karl Pilkington, Waylon Lewis, and Oprah, taught by Dharma Mittra or Simon Park or Kathryn Budig or  David Williams. Or Whoever is not on Tour that day.

Do we have lift off? I think we set our sights on taking EJ to the Big Apple, you know, start spreadin’ the news.

I read this quote every day, as it is the cornerstone of my heart’s mission and also it it fun to say Tarthang Tulku, five times fast.

“In all this world, there is nothing more important than appreciating the preciousness of our human embodiment and doing all we can to increase health and happiness for ourselves and others”.  – Tarthang Tulku

DISCLAIMER: If you’re still trying to figure out who I am and who sent me, as I am, I am simply a strange cosmic paradoxical experiment on the part of The Gods: perhaps a post-modern incarnation of Pandora (among other truant muses). She’s the doll who had to go open that forbidden box, unleashing evil on the world. The happy ending in that story though is that once she closes up the magical box she leaves within it only Hope. And, as far as I know, I am not related to Tim Westergren, creator of Pandora.com but maybe we should tawk, if only as fellow crazy Swedes. Maybe we can listen to ABBA while wearing tinfoil. Or something. Ok. That’s all the fine print for now. Maybe tomorrow I’ll morph into Lakshmi. But today I’m just a Jersey girl who has been called to deliver the Good News. Also, I should mention I have a friend who is a surfing Swami and that never hurts the cause. Hare Om Tat Sat, ShalOM, Praise Jesus, Mahalo. One Love.

In God We Trust,


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