Once upon a
time, there was an enchanted city called Los Angeles, California.
It was a magical place with swimming pools, movie stars, and an
abundance of fruit trucks on every residential street whose horns
played a soothing rendition of La Cucaracha to announce
lived there hated the dump. Because the state government refused
to follow other states examples in giving tax benefits to
businesses, large companies were pulling out of the area like crazy,
leaving countless thousands of unemployed in their wake. It was
tough for the locals, but great for the big charities that gave
handouts for the area destitute, as they could approach their major
donor with chilling statistics of needy people and cash in on beneficent
tax write-offs. And with the busiest time of the charitable year
Christmas approaching, the philanthropic enterprises
looked forward to their most profitable year ever.
going to be great, exclaimed Boss Greedy, the CEO of HANDOUT
(Hoggish Agency Needing Donations of Ungodly Treasures), the biggest
charity in the state. Between my multimillion dollar salary
and my profit-sharing bonus, Ill be rolling in cash by the
time of our annual Christmas telethon fundraiser. This is going
to be our best year since the September 11th windfall.
But the accountants
at HANDOUT were astonished to find that with the holidays approaching,
donations had fallen off drastically from years past. Boss Greedy
called in the Chief Accountant for answers.
called in the Chief Accountant for answers.
the hells going on? demanded the CEO of his head bean
counter. Profits are down by a landslide this year! How the
hell am I supposed to finish the palace Im building in Brunei
with measly endowments like this?
the unemployment numbers in California, Chief, replied the
haggard bookkeeper. Its so expensive to do business
in the state that people who havent already lost their jobs
are scared to death that they will. People arent contributing
to homeless charities because theyre afraid theyll be
in the same boat themselves in a few months.
weve got to figure out something, fired back the portly
Greedy. We make 90% of our yearly profits from our Christmas
telethon, and Im paying too much in alimony to cut back. Our
problem is that people see the photos of the people were trying
to help, and they dont think that those hoboes look any worse
off than they are. What weve got to do is find a homeless
guy whos so gross and pathetic that even a person in desperate
financial straits is going to want to help him out. Where are we
going to find someone that disgusting?
about this time, a young muse named Jonny M. was being fired from
his job at a local sperm bank. The careless muse had accidentally
depleted the depositorys supply of semen from Nobel prize-winners
and sports stars when he mistook it for his daily application of
Jergens Lotion. In desperation, Jonny had replaced the diminished
spooge supply with his own seed, resulting in the birth of a coterie
of grotesquely pasty-faced, mildly retarded babies.
to worry, exclaimed the muse cheerfully as he was thrown face-first
into a neighboring dumpster by his former boss. I always seem
to be out of work this time of year, and I never have a problem
getting a new job just in time for the holidays!
when Jonny logged on to jobs section on CraigsList.com, he was astonished
at the microscopic number of openings that were available. And the
few that he was able to apply for were snapped up by people who
had been laid off by Countrywide Bank.
unemployable, said the recruiter.
is that you dont have good references, explained the
recruiter at a Rent Boy registry that the muse had vainly tried
to get placed on. Your boss at the convenience store you worked
at said it was overrun by terrorists on your shift. You were elected
Pope, but you left the job after just a few months by faking your
own death. You were the head of FEMA, but when disaster struck you
spent most of your time hitting on a Bourbon Street stripper. Not
only that, but I see from Jonnys Prison Christmas that
you have a criminal record!
The muse hung
his head in shame, wondering if the scandal of Jonnys Prison
Christmas would follow him to his grave.
cant help you, said the recruiter as he motioned Jonny
towards the door. These are just too many problems on your
résumé and I havent even mentioned your
smell yet. Im afraid that youre what we call in the
industry unemployable. Good day.
muse made his way into the cold street. His unsightly gut was growling
from not having eaten in days. He had been evicted from his flea-ridden
studio apartment and had taken to living in a wooden box next to
the freeway on-ramp, and when he funds sank even lower he was forced
to vacate that and move into a cardboard box by the far less fashionable
off-ramp. Now, the once-proud muse was forced to rip one of the
walls of his dwelling away and stencil on it with his barely-legible
Jonny was used
to people staring at his ghastly complexion, made even more appalling
by his nonexistent hygiene. But he wasnt prepared for the
reaction of the motorists as they saw him pathetically holding his
sign as they got off the freeway. The muses usual vacant stare
was made even more vacuous by weeks of malnutrition, and he was
surprised to find that when he approached the cars as they stopped
to enter Burbank Avenue, they would throw a wad of whatever cash
they had available just to get him to walk away.
were appalled at Jonnys appearance.
Jonny was stunned.
This was the best-paying Holiday gig hed ever had. Hed
just stand at the freeway off-ramp during rush hour and people would
throw money at the revolting sight of him while vainly trying to
choke back vomit. Jonny was accustomed to people being nauseated
by his appearance, but this was the first time he could remember
cashing in on his grotesquerie. Soon his financial situation improved,
and he was able to replace the cardboard wall that he had torn away
from his box with sturdy poster board he bought at Home Depot; and
he was even considering moving upwind of the fecal pile that a family
of possums had made by its makeshift door. And instead of desperately
rooting for food in the dumpster by the local MacDonalds,
he was able to actually enter the restaurant and order the food
fresh, although after tasting it he realized that it made little
difference in its quality.
Jonny was delighted
in the gradual upturn is his fortunes until one night when he was
awoken by a loud pounding on the side of his box. He groggily awoke
to be confronted by the entire local homeless community.
the big idea? asked the leader of the tramps, a diminutive
fellow wearing a small mustache and a tattered derby. We were
all scraping by until you came in to the territory. Everybody bought
our hard luck stories and kicked in a buck or two sos we could
get a warm bed for the night, buy a cup of coffee or, in Emmetts
case, get a fix for our heroin addiction. But you breeze in with
your pitiable demeanor and grotesque face and suddenly we dont
seem so pathetic any more. No one will give us a dime.
the big idea? asked the leader of the tramps.
Jonny was confounded
when he heard of the mens plight. He never meant for his unsightly
appearance to give him an unfair advantage and rob them of their
livelihoods. Without a word, he picked up the coffee can where he
kept his daily take of panhandling and began distributing to the
arent trying to rob you, said the leader. At the
worst, we were just going to cut off a thumb so youd leave
robbing me, replied Jonny with a pompous smirk. This
is the holiday season, a time for sharing and helping each other.
How can I enjoy my success knowing that my brothers are living in
hunger? From now on, we will gather together and share our daily
take. That way, none of us will go hungry. And if one of us does,
then all of us will.
The other tramps
thought that Jonny sounded like a filthy Communist, but since he
was making so much more money than anyone else they werent
going to argue. Jonny became friends with these men, and found that
instead of being the nameless spectres that he always turned his
gaze from in more prosperous times, they were people just like him
with dreams, skills, and a desire for their lives to matter and
to make a difference in this world. Jonny sooned realized that his
new friends were a priceless resource that society couldnt
do without, and it was up to him to find a way to raise the money
that would get these good men back on their feet and feeling a part
of the human family.
and late afternoon, Jonny would stand by the freeway off-ramp and
accept offerings from revolted motorists, and every evening he would
distribute his takings to the other unfortunates. But it was never
enough to keep all of them fed. The noble muse was desperate to
find a way to raise more money and even considered receiving presents
of cash for his birthday on December 15 instead of the traditional
gifts of alcohol, but rejected that plan as absurd.
It was early
December as Jonny stood shivering at his off-ramp pondering the
problem when a huge limousine exited the freeway and stopped by
Jonny. The muse approached the car to make his usual entreaty for
loose change and perhaps some Grey Poupon mustard when the car window
came down and Jonny beheld the excited face of Boss Greedy staring
the CEO of HANDOUT (Hoggish Agency Needing Donations of Ungodly
Treasures), the biggest charity in the state, said the fat
cat for the benefit of anyone reading this idiotic story who had
nodded off and forgotten the beginning. Youre the most
disgusting homeless person Ive ever seen, and I just know
that with you as the poster boy for our annual Christmas telethon
that well make more money than ever before
more to help
The noble muse
didnt know what to think. He was taken aback by Greedys
lack of tact about his revolting appearance, but he was excited
at the prospect of raising money for the homeless and unemployed
at Christmas time. He took a hard look at the fat cat and didnt
like what he saw, for the CEOs air of superiority reminded
him of the bastard supervisor at the sperm bank who kicked Jonny
out on the street in the first place. But then the muse pondered
that by writing off this man simply because of his appearance, Jonny
was no better than those who dismissed his destitute friends without
even trying to get to know them.
do it! exclaimed the muse. For in this special time
of times, it behooves us
Jonny into the limousine before the bombastic muse could start on
one of his long, boring speeches. Jonny was taken to photography
studios, television sound stages, and ad agencies to appear in advertising
for HANDOUTs Christmas telethon. Within days, the muses
appalling face was plastered all over the city and to good
effect. One look at Jonnys deformed and grotesque image gave
people a renewed sensitivity to the plights of the unemployed, and
the number of generous souls who pledged to contribute to the telethon
swelled higher than they ever had before.
fantastic! enthused Boss Greedy to himself as he beheld the
promissory notes that started piling in. Well have our
best year ever because of our poster boy! And look at the pledges
weve gotten from corporations. Why, the janitors union
alone has pledged over a million dollars, all because they had to
hire so many new members to clean up the vomit spewed by people
who saw Jonnys picture. My bonus will be bigger than ever!
union had pledged over a million dollars
because they had to hire so many new members to clean up vomit.
head wasnt swelled by the attention. He continued standing
at his freeway off-ramp to collect money for his friends on Skid
Row. And every night, they would surround him to collect a paltry
few dollars and be filled with hope at the prospect of financial
aid that would be rushing in after Jonnys appearance on the
telethon. As Christmas Day approached, Jonnys heart was filled
with a newfound optimism. The colored lights and joyful carols always
filled his heart with love for his fellow man, and the abundance
of gifts of alcohol that he received for his birthday on December
15 kept him nicely toasted.
The muse could
barely contain his excitement when Christmas Eve arrived. Soon,
he would be making an impassioned plea on behalf of the needy for
millions of people who only wanted to rejoin society as a productive
citizen. And Jonnys hope for the most magical Christmas ever
seemed vindicated at midnight when Santa Claus came to his cardboard
box and granted Jonnys wish for a little sexual experimentation
(although it turned out not exactly to be what the muse had in mind
- he was almost certain that he had specified with a woman
in his letter - especially after Jonny later realized that it probably
wasnt Santa but one of the homeless guys who tended to drool
a lot whenever the muse bent over). On Christmas morning, after
sharing a breakfast of barbequed shoe leather with his unemployed
friends, a limousine arrived to whisk Jonny to the television studio.
worry, friends! chimed Jonny as he got into the car. My
appearance tonight will mean a better life for all of us!
was frantic when Jonny arrived. The first ten hours of the
telethon have been a fiasco! Regis Philbin has just been going through
the motions as the host, and Britney Spears musical number
was a joke. We havent made a dime. Our only chance is to throw
your hideous mug on the screen and hope enough people will pledge
money so that well take it off again.
The muse knew
it was his time to shine. Greedy pushed him onto the stage during
a commercial break next to host Regis Philbin, who took a look at
Jonny and promptly threw up.
exclaimed Greedy. Youre on a roll, boy! Just keep it
up, and well make lots of money to help the unemployed!
his throat in anticipation of making the heartfelt speech hed
been rehearsing for days, when his concentration was broken by a
loud voice entering the studio.
the hell is Greedy? demanded a dangerous looking man who looked
like hed just stepped out of a Sopranos episode. The
check for the solid gold toilet fixtures my boys is installing in
his palace in Brunei bounced, and theres going to be hell
responded the fat cat in a hushed voice, hoping that the muse wouldnt
hear. With the freak Im about to put on the airways,
youll have all your cash by tomorrow morning. Once the suckers
watching get a load of his this special time of year
baloney, theyll throw so much cash at us that Ill be
able to retire on my bonus this year!
But Greedy hasnt
counted on Jonny ultra-refined sense of hearing, developed from
years of pushing his ear to the wall of various tenement buildings
he lived in in a desperate attempt to listen in on his neighbors
appalled! announced the muse. I thought that you were
trying to make a difference in the lives of the unfortunate. I see
now that youre only interested in making a buck for yourself.
But in this special time of year, we need to think of others and
cast our own selfish wants aside. Why I havent eaten anything
but shoe leather and a Big Mac in days, yet Im here not to
plead for myself, but to ask for help for others whose voices cant
be heard. Thats what this joyous season is about, and thats
why you should hang your head in shame!
out! interrupted an assistant director from the side of the
stage. The muse suddenly realized that his entire diatribe had been
broadcast live and could immediately tell its effectiveness from
the donation board, which was now spinning wildly out of control.
board was spinning wildly out of control.
It dawned on
Jonny that he had ignored tradition by failing to get drunk during
the course of this idiotic story, so he grabbed a bottle of Jack
Daniels from out of the gift basket intended for Amy Grant and began
pouring it down his throat.
got what you wanted, slurred Jonny grimly. I hope that
you enjoy your massive paychecks and bonuses while the people who
that money is meant for continue to live in squalor. But Ill
keep working and fighting to get assistance for those down on their
luck, even though the vast majority of those I have to go to are
like you and only want to take advantage of them. And I wont
only commit myself to that ideal on Christmas, because this most
special time of year is only to serve as a reminder of the kind
of people that we want to be for all of our lives. I pledge to continue
giving and working to make this world a better place for others
all the year long!
With that, Jonny
swallowed the last of the Jack Daniels and promptly passed out.
He woke up hours later in a pool of his own filfth and vomit, and
felt a sense of security in the familiar soundings. But suddenly,
the muse was aware that something was different. Instead of waking
up in a typical gutter, Jonny realized that he was now in a lavish
feather bed inside Greedys stately home. The muse was even
more surprised to find his host standing over him with tears running
down his puffy face.
heard the plight of the needy put to me like that before,
said the CEO. Ive been blind. This is a special time
of year, and if a twisted freak like you can think of others at
Christmas, it would be a sin for a guy who doesnt have any
real problems to be so self-obsessed.
great, responded Jonny, shaking some of his puke fom off his
wrist.. But couldnt your household staff have cleaned
me up a little when they realized that I was sleeping in a pool
of my own vomit?
on, continued Greedy, ignoring Jonny so as not to break the
mood of the moment, I pledge not to only work for personal
gain, but to try and fulfill our mission to make things better for
the poor and unfortunate!
So all was better
in the Los Angeles charitable world. Greedy made good on his promise
to shun personal riches and work only to help the needy until his
many creditors orchestrated his brutal murder as a warning to anyone
else who got behind on their payments. The recruiter at the Rent
Boy agency acquired a sixteen year old Chubby Chaser girlfriend
and was in such a good mood all the time that he found a position
for anyone who walked into his office, even if they werent
looking for a job. The Hobos of Skid Row became rich from releasing
a series of popular Bum Fight videos. And everyone in
the city, rich and poor, young and old, had the most wonderful Christmas
of all was Jonny M. As he looked around at his friends finding new
hope and prosperity, his heart lifted in knowing that he had made
a small contribution to making it happen. So, with a nod of good
cheer to his companions, he made his way to the local wig shop to
see how much money they would give him for his hair.
to you, dear friend. Whether you are celebrating Christmas with
friends, Hanukkah with family, or commemorating the season by sending
gifts of alcohol to Jonny for his birthday on December 15, know
that you, too, are an indispensable member of the human family who
has an inexhaustible supply of opportunities to make the world a
better and safer place each and every day of the year. And know
that you always have a loving friend in Jonny M.
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