Posted by: slartibartifast | June 4, 2008

Addors & Detractors

When I lived in La Jolla, California, in about 1977, and was a student at UCSD I lived three blocks from the Comedy Store, a great place to hear stand-up comedians. I used to go as often as I could afford to.  One night I heard a comedian (wish I could remember who, although it sounds like a line that Gary Muledeer would use) say something that has stayed with me since then: “There are two groups of people in the world- those that divide people into two groups and those that don’t.”

The two groups of people I divide them into are- Addors and Detractors.

Addors are people who consistently add something to your existence, even if in small ways. You’re glad to see or hear them. If they add enough, either in one shot or over time, you admire them.

Detractors are people who lessen some intangible part of your life. Jerks, liars, or worse. They are as welcome as loud drunks at a church service.

I briefly considered the existence of a third category of people who are neither, just neutral. But that negates my clever opening paragraph…so it’s out. Besides, if you keep splitting that hair finer and finer you realize that everybody can fit into one category or the other. We don’t usually have entirely neutral feelings when we see or hear anybody. So there.

A natural consequence of having formalized this observation into a blog entry is that I list some people of each category. So here:

Some conspicuous Addors in my life- Dr. Eldon Stevens. During my first two years of college I took two classes from him, Introduction to Logic and History of Modern Philosophy. Easily the best professor I ever had in school. It’s not an overstatement to say that he taught me how to think. It’s a rare week that passes where I don’t think about a joke he made, some example of a difficult point he made easier to understand, or the look on his face at the end of a lecture when he realized that he had stretched our brains with a new concept. If not for him and his effect on me I never would have made it through college.

Leo Kottke. My favorite musician.  Guitar player and story teller…if you could turn up the meanings of those words by 1200%. I’ve seen him live probably 12-13 times. Endlessly entertaining.

Ralph Nader. He has done more to make Americans lives better than anyone. I’ve heard him speak three times in my life and met him and talked with him once. He has an astounding memory and grasp of historical and political facts. Most impressive person I know of.

Nigel Mansell. The most exciting and phenomenally talented Formula 1 racing driver I’ve seen in my life. At the 1984 U.S. Grand Prix, held in Dallas that year, he drove for Lotus and when his transmission broke on the last lap, within sight of the finish line, he climbed out of his car and, AFTER driving for two hours in 104 degree heat, he PUSHED his Lotus to the finish line to get ONE championship point for sixth place. That’s desire!

Thom Hartmann. I am awed every time I listen to him, which is every day at , with his knowledge of history, science, politics, psychology, and people.

Dr. Dennis Rohatyn. A former colleague, lunch buddy, and friend. The smartest and most well read person I ever met. I never had a conversation with him I didn’t love.

Joey Garcia. I initially hired him to work for me at the university we were both at. After he left we became better friends. He was nice to me when he didn’t have to be. Now a former mortal. I miss him greatly.

General Chuck Yeager. His exploits seem superhuman to me. Read his autobiography Yeager. You won’t be bored.

Musicians. Anybody who takes the time to learn an instrument, the talent to play it well enough to entertain people, and survive doing it for a living (usually for little fame or money) gets my respect automatically. Some of the best I like (and who disprove the fame/money point): Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Steely Dan (Walter Becker & Donald Fagan), Michael Hedges, Larry Fast (Synergy), Nat King Cole, Patrick O’Hearn, Don Harriss, Boris Blank (Yello), Vangelis, ZZ Top, The Moody Blues, Firefall, Boston, Van Halen, Toto, Little River Band, Rush, Saga, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Tangerine Dream, Dean Martin, The Eagles, Pink Floyd, Crosby Stills & Nash, Jimmie Spheeris, Head East, Starcastle, Tommy Bolin, The Who, Phil Collins, and Erasure.

Added 6/24/08- George Carlin. I debated whether to add him here when I first wrote this blog, but left him out because it seemed a little too long as it was. Now I can say that he was one of my personal heros for 40 years. 71 years wasn’t long enough for him. The world was a better place for him being in it and a worse one now that he has left it. So long George. Thanks for the laughs and thought.

Addors make life worthwhile…period

Some egregious Detractors- George W. Bush. A chuckling chimp who can’t navigate to the end of a coherent sentence, much less lead a country. If it weren’t for Dick Cheney’s hand up his ass controlling him like a butt puppet and Karl Rove whispering in his ear he couldn’t order lunch. Not satisfied to be just a national embarrassment, he took his show on the road so that he could “be more famous” by fucking up Iraq. To the rest of the world: I am appallingly sorry we inflicted this potato-head on you.

Michael Jackson. How the hell is this guy (if you choose to use that word) not in jail??? Because there is a separate, but not equal, kind of justice for the rich and famous.

Paris Hilton. Notorious for being notorious, I guess. There’s no other reason I can see for her to be mentioned…anywhere…ever. If people would just stop noticing her she would dissipate like a raunchy fart.

Ann Coulter. I could carve a better person out of a bar of soap. She casts no shadow.

Ayrton Senna. He proves the proposition that talent doesn’t necessarily make you great. In 1993, having already won the World Driver’s Championship three times in Formula 1, at the Japanese Grand Prix a rookie driver, Eddie Irvine, passed Senna, who was currently in 2nd place, late in the race to unlap himself. The great Senna was so incensed at this insult to his bloated ego that he went over to the rookie’s pit garage after the race and punched him. Real classy guy.

Phil Hellmuth. Poker player. Braying Jackass.

Rush Limbaugh. Semi-ambulatory turd.

I had originally intended to put the names of a couple of people from my life in here, but I chickened out. Much like invoking a demon by saying their names out loud I didn’t want to risk even the smallest chance of recalling these demons to my life.

Detractors, especially bad ones, should be not seen nor listened to. My belief is that stupidity and asshole behavior might be catching. Why tempt The Fates?

I wish that I could say that I have encountered more Addors than Detractors, but it would be a lie. If there is any kind of afterlife and if that afterlife has any justice or reward I want to know the answer to only one question: Why did I have to meet every stupid, lying, asshole on Earth before I died?



  1. I divide people into THREE groups: those who can count and those who can’t.

    I would add to your Addors (a word chosen, I assume, to differentiate them from the snakes in the grass more appropriately included in the detractors list) Buckminster Fuller. A visionary thinker who contributed to the marketplace of ideas to make the world a better, more sustainable habitat for humans and our fellow passengers on this fair planet, long before the current crisis management ethos of energy conservation arose.

    I agree with your assessment of George Carlin. Indefatigable champion of Truth, Justice, and the American Way (read: First Amendment rights including speaking truth to power)

    Oh, and Mr. Bartifast, (may I call you Slarti?) as to the “EVERY stupid, lying, asshole on Earth” question: You haven’t met my brother’s 3 ex-wives (or my brother) yet! Good luck!

    yours truly: dorky pedant

  2. Dear dorky pedant,

    Thanks for the comment. Yes, Bucky Fuller would have been a great addition.

    Trying to winnow down the list of people I admire enough to be included on my Addors list proved more tricky than I first imagined.

    Other near misses are Carl Sagan, Larry Niven, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Stewart, Robert Duvall, Gale Sayers, the Mercury astronauts, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Bobby Kennedy, Carroll Shelby, Kurt Vonnegut, Kelly Johnson, and Sean Connery.

    So, this is essentially my “deleted scenes” section where I get to go back and add the other ones I like, but didn’t include.

    I’m not through, just yet, meeting assholes. Maybe your brother and his exes are around the next bend for me.

    And, yes, I changed the “e” to an “o” to make the concept less lethal. Serpentine logic.

    Cheers mate.

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