Grannies and Brain Disease

“I hate nazis so much! Don’t you EVER….”

Good morning and welcome to another piping hot bad sandwich chronicles beyond thunderdome. If you are a fan of this endeavor, if you like what you read or if you just have an extra 6 bucks a month, please consider subscribing. It helps me out a great deal and you get the good shit instead of the shake, as it were. Anyway, on with the show:

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My granny died today. Well, that’s not entirely true. She died years ago, but she died on this date. Coincidentally it was also the date she was born (I think there may be some sort of technicality where she was pronounced dead at like 1205AM on June 2nd, but I’m talking about the actual living and dying parts of her life here, not the nuance of the calendar or the coroner. June 1st in, June 1st out. Her name, it may not surprise you to learn, was June. She was cool.

They say you’re more likely by something like 25x to die on your birthday than any other day of the year, which I assume has a lot to do with really old people just hanging on until they’re 90 or whatever and then collapsing behind the finish line like some marathon runner from Ghana or something. In a way, June dying on the day she was born is weird, but in another, it’s not weird at all.

Here’s what I remember about her (and this is less boring than you think it’s gonna be): she was a TOTAL bitch to people who weren’t me as far as I remember, but she was always extremely kind to me. A favorite story of mine that we in the family don’t often tell for obvious reasons (but fuck it, right?) involves some guy at some business mixer for my grandfather’s work calling my granny a bitch, her hearing it, and then, while sitting on the dais at this work function right before the food or the speeches or whatever, she got up and poured her red wine down the dude’s white shirt in front of everyone, as he was also on the dais. It probably didn’t happen exactly that way, but that’s the way she told me it went down and I like that version a lot.


She was a heavy smoker, a heavy drinker (one time when she showed up at the house I lived at with my mom and stepdad, I answered the door and her first words were “hi sweetie! Where’s the liquor?” Even then I recognized this as a fairly badass move of someone who, admittedly, probably needed booze more than one should).

She would ask me to sneak out behind the garage to smoke with her because, in her words “no one wants either of us smoking” (I was young, so the morality around this is probably questionable, but it sure as hell made me think she was cool), and she smoked the longest skinniest cigarettes on earth and I LOVED bumming them from her. If I still smoked, I would smoke Eve 150s for sure.

She had at least one metal tooth (gold? Silver? maybe just a severe filling?) and she cheated at cards when she played against her grandson, who was me. She cheated at monopoly when she played against her grandson, also me. She cheated at Stratego…you get the idea.

On the night she died (and this could be wrong, but this is the story I’ve heard for the last 25 years, and the one my grandfather [technically he was my Nono due to the Italian nature of our relationship] told us the next day when we showed up to him aggrieved and pounding Stag beers at the kitchen table), she went to the bathroom, called my Nono in to tell him that she’d had a heart attack and that she loved him and goodbye and that was it. My Nono (and both my grandparents on the other side of my family for that matter) went on to suffer severe dementia. June got out alive, as it were.

I spent a lot of time with June simply because as a little kid my mom worked a lot and my grandmother was the kind of woman who sat on a dais and spilled red wine down some asshole’s shirt in front of the whole room but otherwise was free to hang out with a small precocious boy who just wanted to hang out with her and play games and listen to her talk.

As a result….well, no. I don’t know. Am I like her because I’m genetically like her (unlikely as I do NOT cheat at Stratego, though we DO share a lot of qualities in ways that are weirdly unique to both of us in our family), or is it because she was such a cool unbridled spirit when I was a kid that I wanted to be like her because even though she was an old ass lady, she was a badass? I don’t know.

Weirdly, my very dynamic and alive mom is currently older than my grandmother was when she died and I have it on good information that it’s freaking her out but my mom never had to deal with the dais or the Eve 150s and she doesn’t have the same passion for Seagrams 7, so I feel like that’s kinda why she’s winning in the ‘years alive’ contest, but that’s all another story for another time.

My granny used to talk about the polio vaccine quite passionately (she used to talk passionately about everything. We went to see Raiders of the Lost Ark in the theater and at one point she grabbed my arm about as hard as her old grizzled hand could and hissed (VERY loudly) “I hate nazis so much! Don’t you EVER….” and then she kinda trailed off, (doubtlessly swept up in Indy’s rugged good looks) which at the time was funny bc the Nazis were clearly the baddies in the movie but today I think it’s a pretty awesome thing for an old woman to get up in arms about to an 8 year old in an empty movie theater showing complete pulp).

Her main thing with the polio vaccine was that polio was a fucking nightmare and it kind of cast a pall on her youth or what have you with all the leg braces and people dying and so forth, but now, dig this, the shit is GONE! There’s no polio. It’s been eradicated! Seeing my hard drinking, hard smoking, cheating at cards, fuck the system, fuck the world, fuck you if you’re not with me, granny take such a passionate stance (pro vaccine, anti nazi) undoubtedly had an effect on me. And here, on her birthday, I’m gonna run down exactly what we’re looking at in terms of this new vaccine (multiple choices of a vaccine even!) that we all have the chance to get.

Before we get into this next part, if you still fancy yourself the kind of ‘unbridled spirit’ that’s too good for the vaccine keep in mind you ain’t got shit on my granny, who was ten times more badass than you’ll ever be and pro vaccine to the bitter end. Anyway….

What is gonna happen?

What’s gonna happen depends entirely on how much we can convince people to get vaxxed. There are, as far as I can tell, 3 main types of thinking regarding not getting vaccinated:

1) the wing nut: it’s putting a tracer in me and I don’t trust the government. Something something 5G! Never mind that your government and private companies know every single thing you do thanks to your phone, but whatever, weirdo. Why do you think Instagram tries to sell you Jim Carrey shirts every time you say “Somebody STOP ME!”? Anyway, there’s no convincing this particular breed of dipshit. Let’s move on.

2) The wing nut lite: the virus isn’t real and even if it is, I don’t trust what’s in the vaccine.

This is so fucking stupid that it doesn’t deserve a response but I suppose if I had to give one I’d say “uh…okay. COVID has killed almost six hundred thousand people in the US and over three and a half million worldwide.

To put this in perspective based solely on my life, that’s like everyone in the greater St. Louis area and everyone in the city of Chicago. That’s a lot of people.

How many people have died from the vaccine, tho? Oh, the answer is zero. Yes, there was a news story about people getting the vaccine and dying (a small number in a collection of early adopting vaccination nursing homes around the country…I believe the number was 374 total) but the thing is, the vaccine doesn’t protect you from DYING. It protects you from dying of COVID. People in nursing homes die. Once you go in one your life expectancy drops from years to months.

Literally not a single one of those people died because of the vaccine nor did they exhibit symptoms of the deadly virus and instead were exhibiting symptoms of deadly “I’m old as fuck, man.”

3) If everyone else gets the vaccine, fuck it, I’ll be fine so why the fuck would I do it?: as stupid as the first two are, this is the one that pisses me off the most. Fine, I want you to die you lazy, good for nothing no sense of loyalty for your community son of a bitch. Fuck this mentality entirely. You asshole. Did you know that:

We are literally trying to pay American people to get this vaccine that the rest of the world is literally dying to get

this is the entitled prick nature of the USA. We have to PAY motherfuckers to get a lifesaving treatment that people in every country from India to Canada are quite literally DYING to get access to. But you’re too lazy? You think the herd is gonna carry you through? Here’s the fucking deal, cochese: without you we CAN’T achieve herd immunity. Right now we’re hovering at a level that seems scarily like it won’t make it to the benchmark we need to hit for the virus to effectively die.

But by all means, fuck it. Just leave it to everyone else. Does your mom still make your bed and wipe your ass, you fucking loser? The thing is that this will lead to:

Deadly new strains, just when this shit was done

This is what happens when you don’t get a vaccination. Clearly, (and I mean this wholeheartedly, no matter how shitty it may sound) you (again) CLEARLY have no idea how any of this works but man, do you realize that vaccines DO work? Did you read up there about polio? It’s GONE! How many people do you know with polio? You know none. Know why? Vaccines!

But you are listening to the warmed over nonsense spewed originally by a discredited (BRITISH!) group of doctors who even ADMITTED they made the anti vaxx shit up that was then parroted by Jenny fucking McCarthy of all fucking people, so I don’t expect you to understand any of this, since you get your medical advice from the host of Singled Out, but I’m gonna try.

You know how if someone is trying to break into your house and they get to the back door and your alarm goes off or your light goes on or your or your dog barks then they will bail quickly? when something actively defends against an intruder the intruder is fucked.

But without an alarm, or a dog, or a light, they can sit in your house and revisit their plans and create a new way into all the houses around you that no one has yet thought to defend against. This is what viruses do. When left unchallenged, they’ll slip down the fucking chimney or under your porch or whatever.

when it’s burglars at your house, you’re fucked. When it’s a virus that has literally shut the whole world down, you’re fucking ME, because even though I’m responsible and vaccinated, I’m not necessarily vaccinated against the strains of this that you are allowing to flower out there and slip down my chimney because of your stupid insistence that for WHATEVER fucking reason you don’t need a vaccine.

I am well aware that anyone who is anti vaccine has stopped reading by now, by the way, but this is driving me crazy because it’s my fucking LIFE’S WORK that is at stake here. I can’t go play for you or make a reasonable living without the world being safe. and it infuriates me that people won’t take a basic step (and make MONEY JUST FOR GETTING VACCINATED IN THE PROCESS YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES) to help get us back to normal.

This is my attitude and it’s just one man’s opinion, but this shit is gonna lead to:

Wild sectarian violence

Everyone has a strong opinion and I’m clearly no different (I know literally one person who seems to be very passive on this whole issue, but that is a remarkably centered and rare thing, Sincerely.). I know that people who somehow think this is a hoax or whatever their thing is that they somehow don’t believe in dead people or whatever the fuck, and that’s the point. to me it’s so stupid that I can’t even be chill about it.

Conversely, these dumb numbnutzes seem to think that I am impeding their freedom or spreading a conspiracy of some kind…which, aaaaaaah, I feel the exact same way about them actually so there is no winning this from either side. Once people stop believing in science, it’s just people who think you want to wreck their good time on both sides. And one side is somehow still, against all odds, against all evidence, on the side of a god that, if whatever god is DID exist, is such a bully and an asshole or so distracted or so completely aloof that it will HAPPILY allow you to die. This god of yours doesn’t love you anymore than you love your 25th best action figure from when you were 8. And that’s assuming that there’s no life anywhere else in the universe which is a patently stupid thing to assume. But yeah. God. Versus. Science. Seems like God’s a lock, eh?

I’ll say this though, you think Trump’s dumpy garbage bag body full of Big Mac flavored feces beat COVID using god or using science?

Don’t answer. It will just upset me.

But anyway…

This kind of inability to see the other side as reasonable manifests as wild sectarian violence 100% of the time and it’s nothing new. it’s just…there’s a tweet about this somewhere that I think is relevant:

Hold on…

Well, I couldn’t find it (sigh). But it said something like “funny how there’s a famous expression that says ‘avoid this like the plague’ and then the plague came and lots of people did very little to avoid it.”

This is not the actual tweet and I can’t find the author to properly credit and I regret that, but this is the vibe of the quote. (If any of you know the actual quote I’d love to attribute it properly).

but here’s what happens next:

More idiots die

Ain’t no one but the worst people wishing for anyone to die, but there’s a kind of sick satisfaction in watching people who yell at healthcare professionals who are putting their lives on the line every day, about how this virus isn’t real even as they become completely incapacitated by its horrible symptoms. This shit is not a joke. These people aren’t in six layers of protective gear to punk you, homie. This shit is for real. I don’t want you to die but you’re the equivalent of drunk on an ATV heading down the LA hills into Compton in a blindfold dropping N bombs at the top of your lungs with this kinda thinking, boss.

As a result, more non idiots die

This is the other problem. without everyone getting vaccinated, the new, developing strains (we talked about this before) will end up killing people who actively tried to be responsible. Not wing nuts. Not lazy shitheads waiting for their mom to pick up their Mac and cheese dish out of the rumpus room, but people who are doing their best to be part of the global community and do their part for everyone and hoping other people do the same, and to be honest, it’s a pretty fucking small favor to ask…hey, how about you get something that makes you not die and it will help keep people around you from dying too?” there’s only one remotely reasonable answer to this, but whatever. I’ve beaten this into the ground and if you’re still reading you’re on the side of good and I know that and appreciate you.

My lifelong dream of doing what i’ve done all my life is once again put on hold

Yup. If you don’t get your vaccine, everything I said up there comes true and I can’t tour and my kids starve and die so thanks.


Nah, we are resilient but I do LOVE playing music for you and I can’t when the world is like this (well, I AM going on tour this summer [dates here, just scroll down until it says ‘brendan kelly’] in outdoor or private events mostly) but the ultimate upshot of this lack of interest in the vaccine in parts of the country or culture or whatever is that shit’s gonna regress back to this year again soon and yes, I love working from home and getting fat and having an excuse to never move as much as anyone does, but this WILL precipitate another lockdown, which will be bad. To top it off, we’ll all be the people end of Wall-e and therefore our immune systems will be woefully unprepared to defend ourselves against the new strains of virus that are waiting in the wings for us even as we speak. But that’s a bummer. Let’s change the subject.

Hey, you know what else I like?

I like seeing new things and seeing cool shit I love that i’ve seen a hundred times, I like running into my casual friends who I only see in public settings, realizing how fun it is to be around people who haven’t heard every single thing I have to say a million times and who say things I’m not tired of hearing, I love people that I don’t have to love or have the phone numbers of but who I’ve hung out late into the night laughing until I cried with, going to a show and being bored and then finding the right bartender or a long lost homie and just ending up having the best time, sitting in a diner and drinking coffee and eating breakfast alone, or while my kids run amok, finding myself in the Art Institute after a long bike ride and just sitting there, sweaty, staring at the Magrites. I want to go to the wine bar or the dive bar or the sandwich place but they’re all fucking CLOSED DOWN BECAUSE OF THIS DISEASE AND I AM RUNNING OUT OF THINGS.

I’m running out of things I can say that would feel like something we all agree we miss. I’m running out of things we just collectively love. I’m running out of things to miss in the “can’t wait to see you again” way and I’m starting to fill up on “ill miss you old friend (throws a rose in the open grave)” way. and the part that’s so fucked about this is it doesn’t have to be this way at all. But it is. Because of those three reasons up there for people not getting vaccinated.

Real cool.

I miss hotel restaurants. I miss regular restaurants. I miss hotel bars (god, do I miss hotel bars). I miss small clubs. I miss big clubs. And I’ll miss em forever. They’re closing. These things are dying, and I know that some people say that it’s because the government is making a mountain out of a molehill and won’t let people get back to work, and that’s probably to a small extent accurate, and I can’t express easily how sad every single independent business that has been snuffed out makes me, but you know who doesn’t think that this is a hoax or government overreach? Doctors.

If you just visit shamans and shit and do your house up with sage every time you get the flu, fine. Do you. You’re already committed to lunacy and I have no interest in making you less interesting.

But for the rest of you doubting fuckers, when your asshole or your spine or your throat or your ears or your nuts or your chest hurts, do you go to a doctor?

You do.

So you trust em with your asshole and not with the wherewithal to help guide us all through the greater public health pandemic that’s shut down our world for the past year and a half plus? Come on. Be cool. I want new things to love.

Thank you sincerely.

Okay, just as a final thought, and this is mostly unrelated….

Everyone divorces

Someone will sometime soon do a COVID69 app that is just for people who couldn’t make it through this trying time in their relationships, because there’s clearly a lot of that out there these days. To that person I say, yo, good on ya, come up with a better name for the app and I want 10%.

Love you June. 6/1 forever. Smoke em if you got em folks.

That’s all. Please get vaccinated. And subscribe if you want more of this kinda thing. I promise it’s all very very good

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