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If I had any idea who Tucker Carlson was…
I’d probably be ashamed to admit it. No nutritional value without the milk of your attention As I was lounging on my balcony this evening, listlessly picking at the plate of shoestring potatoes I’d prepared for myself, and watching the rainy wind plaster shredded pieces of tissue and pages from NOW Magazine covered with pictures of naked women and empty Cheetos bags onto the plexiglass, three passenger pigeons appeared out of nowhere, their feet stuck out in the “landing” position. What a sight for sore eyes! I’ll tell ya! Curly, Larry and Moe were carrying little suitcases covered with stickers saying things like “Warszawa” and “Achtung!” and “Italia: Con sprezzatura!” and once they touched down on the balcony railings they began cooing and rustling their feathers and beating on the little suitcases with their beaks, making a noise like distant tom-toms. I took this to mean, incorrectly as it turns out, that the suitcases were filled with important, time-sensitive information. For me? Fat chance! More likely more letters from Hell, no return address, Can’t wait to see you again, not very long now! So excited!! Sincerely, Mom and Dad! The wind feels very cold on my naked body and I pour a shot of vodka into the Baccarat tumbler, gulp it down and feel the warmth spread outward from my gut. I relax a little. The tumbler is sturdy, with a pleasing heft, and I hold it up, admiring the crystal’s clarity. It’s like holding the solidified air of new planet. My feathered phantoms had been attracted no doubt by the moonlight glinting off the bespoke ice cubes from Greenland, hand-cut from the single remaining glacier, that I’d just had flown in on Porter, one seat for each cube. Nobody’s perfect and if I’m going to nourish every last dehydrated cell of my once luscious body with the purest water on earth, I’m sure as little blue buttons gonna fuck spiteful hell out of the environment as I do so. Those ice cubes are suddenly yawning big, as are the giant birds which are now advancing on me, beaks opening and closing, opening and closing… … which is when I awoke with a little scream, usually the sign that I’ve drifted off during the first act of “Siegfried,” but a quick assessment of my surroundings assured me I was merely at my desk, face down on my computer keyboard. Business as usual! I’d nodded off while trying to figure out what a boycott of Tucker Carlson might mean. Do you get that, too? Shall I assume Tucker Carlson is an accounting firm? A small, boutique grocery store? Serves me right, reading Michael Ondaatje and listening to Beethoven string quartets and talking about “watching TV” like white trash. If I did my homework and kept up with the Joneses I’d be able to respond with a well-placed “Whateverrrrr!???!?” to pop-culture references, instead of having everyone I meet squint at me when I ask a question, then back away while calling an ambulance. But apparently people take exception to this Tucker Carlson double-named entity, and are very, very serious about wanting advertisers to stop validating said entity by associating their advertising with this manufacturer of power drills or purveyor of lavender-scented eye cream. A brief phone call to Emma, whom I call my virtual assistant because she’s somewhere else and gives assistance which is virtually useless nine times out of ten, informs me that Tucker Carlson is an unpleasant person somewhere specializing in unpleasant concepts relating to white people being people and other colors of people being less than people. Thanks Emma! Are all Young Girls these days named after nineteenth-century English housemaids? You are totally woke, or at least you will be when I test-call you at four AM! So, Tucker Carlson is a person, or, more accurately, a pundit! Now, I ask you. Why would a corporation spend endless hours getting their ad agency to perfect their brand creative—then air it during Tucker Carlson? Why would they do that? Having spent ten long years working in ad agencies, I can tell you why, with confidence. It’s the numbers, stupid. I don’t really think you’re stupid. It’s just the trope, OK? Work with me, here. It’s not that the corporations or the media buyer are clueless, or that they want to sully their good name or toss the work of dozens of talented people down the toilet. But corporations, and by extension their ad agencies, are in the business of selling stuff, mostly stuff that people don’t need, in as large quantities (model 1) or, if moronic luxury is the order of the day, at as high prices (model 2) as possible. To accomplish this, they need you to believe that their breakfast cereal is not just another mass-produced box of corn kernels puffed up, pressed through rollers and sweetened with more corn, and delivering such low levels of nutrition that most of the actual food value comes from the milk you pour on it. No, that’s not what their breakfast cereal really is. Their breakfast cereal is really a bowlful of togetherness and familial love and community and the silvery laughter of mischievous yet ultimately still adorable children. They need you to believe this so completely that they begin to believe it themselves. This, then, is the birth of “the brand.” No one knows what works, because what worked last time doesn’t seem to work the second time, and though everyone buys the nonsense that marketing is becoming more and more “scientific”, in their hearts they know that marketing and branding are more like dowsing for water or using a ouija board, where the miracle of one coincidence that gives the illusion that you knew what you were doing erases the memory of the three thousand flops that prove you don’t. It’s not like there’s a “target audience,” a “niche,” so that you might reasonably work out that your perfectly aligned customer does not watch Tucker Carlson, thus sparing you a moral dilemma. Please! Save the cant for your MBA presentation, buckaroo. In my example, but you could make up your own, anyone with a mouth, a couple of teeth and a stomach that can retain a bowl of cereal is a potential customer. Therefore they need to find the biggest gatherings of the most pairs of eyes, and what has the most pairs of eyes? Huge sports events, tawdry reality shows and low-life self-styled “pundits” spouting the opinions their audience wants to hear, i.e. white supremacy, anti-intellectualism and the undesirability of rapists and murderers from shithole countries, which is the new, of-the-minute locution for what my generation with its quaint, old-school manners called “immigrants.” It’s not like Acme Cereals Corporation had a board meeting where they said, “Let’s get Korn Krunchies in the six PM slot, next to a video of some brown kids being thrown in jail!” No, there was far less thinking involved. They said, “Get us the most eyeballs on the most screens for our $500,000.” Potato, potato, pronounced differently. Corporations are not evil, just psychotic. Let’s split the diff and say “amoral.” Eyeballs are eyeballs. How can the most eyeballs get the most Korn Krunchies into the most kids’ stomachs? Tucker Carlson is one answer. (Now, seriously, the idea that anyone would believe that the puffed corn that leaches nutrients from your body is a bowlful of happiness is clearly preposterous. It would take a brain-vacuum to actually suck the intelligence out of viewers and fill them with despair, so that any positive action became impossible and people simply did what they were told to do, like zombies. Well, three hundred thwacks on my cracked fontanel if they haven’t invented that brain vacuum— it’s called Tucker Carlson!) This is why I don’t jump for joy when, say, Toronto-Dominion Bank sponsors Pride Month in Toronto. I’m sure they believe their heart is in it. But I didn’t vote for T-D Bank, and they have no mandate to look after my interests. As long as supporting rights for trans persons provides an off-the-rack halo and a ready supply of new customers to exploit, T-D Bank will be right behind you with the can of Brasso and a rainbow-colored J-Cloth. When the day comes when all of us queers are in jail being tortured, they’ll just move on and sponsor something else. Individually, employees and art directors and brand managers are humans, sometimes intelligent ones, and they care. Collectively, they’d advertise on the Pol Pot Breakfast Hour if it were the most eyeballs on screens. They have little choice and less will to do otherwise. That’s why we are always organizing boycotts and waggings of fingers and cluckings of tongues. But corporations aren’t on our or anyone’s side, and it’s silly to believe that they’re suddenly going to develop ethics, or even good taste—which I define as having every right to do something, then not doing it. Go ahead and switch to Wheat Whippies (because, surprise: they own that as well)! Tucker Carlson, and forgive me for being obvious but it’s what I do best, isn’t a “show.” It’s not Ibsen. It’s just another product, most of whose value comes from the milk you pour on it—your attention. In fact, it could very well be that Korn Krunchies is the show and it’s selling Tucker! You know what, that just occurred to me. But a half-hearted boycott of a third-rate political commentator will do little to improve the world. Protest does not look like an email, or even a petition; at least, not just a petition. Protest happens when people have reached tipping point, when you are blind with outrage, when you simply can’t sit at home and pretend everything’s all right, and you are driven to take to the streets. Real protest has a specific gravity and momentum and explodes with constructive anger
(but not violence) that has been denied for too long. You will know it when you feel it. Protest is not a light smack on the wrist written by someone else about an issue you don’t really feel all that pumped about. This is one reason we have become prissy about protest, judging protesters as anarchists, criminals or just plain old tired hippies. We complain about how disruptive and unruly and not-nice they are. In reality, we’ve forgotten what protest looks like and think that the knee-jerk emailing of a boiler-plate message that disrupts no one and doesn’t even get us out of our chairs is all we need to do to be engaged citizens. There’s only one thing that will work and I dare you to try it out. Turn off the fucking TV, log out of YouTube, stop watching Tucker Carlson, stop buying Korn Krunchies, get out of the house and help someone worse off than you. Do this every day. Then gradually, we can come together, all of us, and ask: how can we as a society muster the courage to do this, full time? How can we ensure that no one falls through the cracks, ever again? Tucker Carlson! You’re funny! People—real thinking, feeling people—don’t watch that kind of shit. Now, honestly. Do I need to tell you this? Let’s try a little harder and then I can be proud to be your friend, and you can be proud you’re mine. Buddhist teachers sometimes ask a pointed question: What will you do with your precious life? This question administers a jolt of low-grade panic and lights a fire with our to-do list. One more day of my life has just passed by. How did I spend my time? What’s the choice? Watch Tucker? Or help someone? If you loathe Tucker Carlson’s message about immigrants, don’t focus on his fear mongering and racism. Find a way to advocate for immigrants.Work to improve and fix the immigration system (and don’t confuse those seeking to immigrate with those seeking asylum—these are two very different issues). Be clever. Listen to, or better yet, tell, immigrants’ stories. Counter lies with facts. Even a boycott of Tucker Carlson by advertisers is more attention that he merits. Tell the station how offensive you find his message. Then put your attention where it will do the most good: on the poor, the marginalized and the maligned. 💔 #TuckerCarlson #marketingethics #boycotts #meaningoflife #branding
SCANDAL!? Nothing we can’t handle!
The SNC-Lavalin ruckus isn’t really about SNC-Lavalin—it’s about Justin. Gather around, boys and girls, as once again I pull my granddad pants up into my armpits and hook my Walter Brennan thumbs behind my suspenders. I’ve just awakened from a forty-eight-hour afternoon nap, which is why I’m so annoyingly perky, and though the time is long past when it was even remotely relevant for me to explain what the Tommy Douglas was going on with this Canadian SNC-Lavalin doodad, I need you to listen up and at least pretend to care. As blessèd Saint Judy was wont to growl:“ATTENTION WILL BE PAID!” Now, could someone help me up off my knees? I never promised you relevance, Murgatroyd McGraw. I promised you Marlboro breath so toxic it could singe your eyebrows, yellow teeth caked with butter tart filling, mysterious, noisome stains on my gusset and slyly humorous, flippant commentary in place of measured, in-depth analysis. Measured in-depth analysis? How perfectly common! So, while I clear my smoker’s throat, the better to hoark another oyster onto my signed, framed portrait of Stephen Harper—some pleasures never pall— it’s time for a Canadian Fireside Chat about politics, optics, and which one of the following options you find most attractive: Progressive Conservatives: More guzzling of fossil fuels, privatized health care, blatant white supremacy, rolled-back reproductive rights for women, no seat at the U.N. Security Council and compulsory church attendance in calico habits modeled after “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Who?; Liberals: Badly-needed carbon tax that will actually put money IN the pockets of taxpayers, a stab at equality, properly-funded universal healthcare, business as usual and a pretty—and pretty ineffectual—prime minister, but who, when you look at him, at least doesn’t make you feel like stabbing yourself in the eyes with remorse because you voted your country into a no-turning-back state of oligarchic theocracy run by climate-change-denying cretins; OR New Democratic Party: You’re kidding, right? Though Jagmeet Singh, the national party leader, is right up there, for me, anyway, in the woody-popping hierarchy, what with that dashing, dark, handsome sub-continental vibe and the liquid music of his accent, which is to me as a moist, patchouli-scented tongue probing my hairy, crusted inner ear. Though, pace Jagmeet, Sikhs can be a little homophobic, as proof of which I will share that the last time a Sikh guy popped round for a blow-job, he said something kind of, well, insensitive to me as he was doing up his trousers. He cast an incredulous look down his nose at me, and said, “Why do you like men?” Betsy DeVos Theranos! This is a tough one! Don’t forget your ‘Smores, eh? There was once a time in Canada, a long-ago, simpler era when squawking blue jays landed on your outstretched index finger and friendly, efficient beavers in Harris Tweed vests valet-parked your car at the Royal York, when we were content with, even proud of, our de facto one-party system. Every other year or so you could vote Progressive Conservative (PC) instead of Liberal, just so you wouldn’t die of boredom, and without afterwards having to blush and laugh nervously while explaining that you’d recently been thrown from your thoroughbred at Woodbine Racetrack and weren’t expected to recover full brain function for at least a few months. There was no shame in voting for the party of John Diefenbaker, or even of Brian Mulroney. Diefenbaker, for example, in 1957, appointed the first female member of Cabinet, Secretary of State Ellen Fairclough, who is remembered for eliminating racial discrimination in Canada’s immigration policy. Yes, the PC’s were for equality and advancing the role of women in public service. Kim Campbell, Justice Minister and Attorney General under Mulroney, passed important gun control legislation. And here’s a quote from Brian M: “I think the government has to reposition environment on top of their national and international priorities.” Provincially, we had exemplary conservative leaders in John Robarts and Bill Davis (who appointed Margaret Birch as the first female Cabinet member in the Ontario Legislature in 1972). Empowered women! Gun control! Prioritizing the environment! Are we through the looking-glass yet, did we nibble the wrong side of the giant mushroom, are we mad as hatters? These were “conservative” men and women with some bold ideas (and some dubious ones such as NAFTA), but they were, on the whole, advocates of fiscal conservatism. Whatever their private beliefs might be, they understood that as public servants they were in office to work for the benefit of all Canadians. That government had a role to play in the lives of voters, that government could and should be a good custodian of the environment, that government should protect and recognize the worth of all its citizens—these were not “radicalized extreme-left socialist agendas.” They were givens. Only when the execrable slime-bag Mike Harris took power—on the rebound from Bob Rae and the NDP— in 1995 did the conservative shredding of the social contract begin in Ontario. This of course was nothing but the same old conservative playbill, turbocharged and disguised as a “Common Sense Revolution.” When populists and demagogues start making like Uri Geller with English, co-opting concepts like “common sense,” “revolution,” “freedom,” “democratic” and “people,” and bending them into new, sinister shapes, you know it’s time to pack your weekender from Frank & Oak with rolls of bandages and a big bottle of aspirin, in case your future includes an extended stay in the basement of the Presidential Palace, where they don’t even bother to soundproof the interrogation rooms; and whatever you do, don’t forget your Roget’s so you can look up the exact opposite of whatever they’re promising to deliver. Mike’s “Common Sense Revolution” involved a typical, explicitly anti-labour, anti-social safety net stance (get those queens off welfare!), gerrymandering by way of the amalgamation of the City of Toronto and its suburbs into a “megacity,” the downloading of once-provincial costs to municipalities, and pedaling the snake oil of “deficit reduction” and privatization: all of this based on the premise that government itself is the problem, and therefore the correct and only model for government is that of a department store holding a fire sale. Example: Ontario had built and was managing a toll highway, the 407, the world’s first with no toll booths and automatic, electronic billing. This public project was based on the startlingly novel concept that greedy, entitled car drivers should actually pay for the infrastructure that they require and should also compensate for guzzling black gold, with the tolls collected contributing much-needed revenue (deficit!) that would support health care and other social services. This one was a no-brainer, and would surely be Ontario’s golden goose for many decades. But Harris, following his personal mantra of “if it ain’t broke, break it, then declare it needs privatizing,” sold the highway’s operations to a business consortium in the late 1990’s for $3 billion to “reduce the deficit.” Now, twenty years later, none other than SNC-Lavalin is selling ten percent of its share in the toll highway for $3.25 billion. Nice business acumen, Mike. Whatever their private beliefs might be, conservatives used to understand that as public servants they were in office to work for the benefit of all Canadians. Other highlights of his term in office include the Walkerton tragedy, in which a couple of buffoons in charge of the well water supply to a small town failed to chlorinate the water (which had been contaminated by manure run-off from a farmer’s field), make accurate reports, undergo yearly mandatory training, or indeed to do anything except help themselves to a cold brew from the fridge at the Public Utilities Commission and try to cover their criminally incompetent tracks. Although the Ministry of the Environment had repeatedly ordered the managers and staff to follow the correct, current testing protocols, no one had ever followed up to see if this had actually happened (it hadn’t). Water testing had been privatized, and it can’t be denied that government was smaller as a result. So was the population of Walkerton, down by a body count of six unfortunate victims of E. coli-contaminated water and thousands of others laid low by life-threatening gastrointestinal infection as a result of ignorance and bad management. But let’s look at the bright side: At least we balanced the budget. Getting back to our “scandal:” SNC-Lavalin is a Canadian company whose executives have, in the past, been rather overly fond of bribing Middle Eastern despots in order to obtain lucrative contracts. (Business as usual in that part of the world, you might understandably murmur, and many did.) This is old, old news; all of the executives guilty of buying their business are long gone and justice done. Any scandal had been dealt with long ago, yet the stars decreed that SNC-Lavalin would be thrust into the spotlight once more, apparently to provide our new Justice Minister and Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, with her inaugural trial by fire. The stakes: Prosecute SNC-Lavalin, after which they would be forever banned from taking government contracts; or treat it as a civil matter and administer a sharp financial slap on the wrist. Wilson-Raybould was determined to take the prosecution route. Justin Trudeau, understandably anxious about the potential loss of nine thousand jobs just before a federal election, picked up the phone. In fact, he may have picked up the phone a few times before having his morning de-caf, and he may have insisted more than once, as it’s his duty to do so, that there was an alternative to going hard-line and prosecuting. This was remediation, involving hefty fines but saving the nine thousand jobs, a rather sensible-sounding approach made possible by recent legislation that had been fully endorsed by the PC’s. In this scenario, there was scope for judicial discretion and prosecution was not inevitable. Remediation would provide transparency, promote confidence in the just outcome via that hefty fine and avoid dragging innocent employees into a quite unnecessary, because redundant, criminal investigation. Wilson-Raybould, whose staff had examined the legislation and concluded that SNC-Lavalin was not eligible for remediation, was having none of it. Why was Wilson-Raybould so rattled when the PM, along with other members of the boys’ club, advocated vigorously for remediation, and why did she dig in her heels? The more Justin and other cool heads tried to persuade, the more stubbornly she pushed back. Was she handicapped by the thinnest skin ever sported by a member of Cabinet or, for that matter, a lawyer? Was she revealing that she simply couldn’t cope with the demands of the post? Trudeau’s lobbying has been spun as “undue pressure,” obstruction of justice, a sneaky attempt to let criminals off the hook, or to pay off business cronies, but all these descriptions are quite false. His lobbying was neither inappropriate nor shady. Did Trudeau attempt to influence the attorney general’s decision? Of course he did, because this is exactly what is expected in our adversarial legal system. Every day, in every court, lawyers attempt to influence: They advocate vigorously, even aggressively, for the solutions that they feel best serve the public interest. This is not sleaze or scandal or interference; this is how our legal system works. Now Wilson-Raybould proceeded to have an extremely public melt-down that cast Trudeau in an extremely unfavorable light, and she stirred the contents of this teacup so relentlessly that we can justifiably question if her concern was actually about justice. Wilson-Raybould’s trump card, and her most gasp-inducing error of judgment—or deliberate act of sabotage, take your pick—was to produce, like a cheesey Las Vegas illusionist producing a white rabbit from her top hat, a recording of a phone conversation she’d had with the PM—a recording she had made secretly, without Trudeau’s knowledge or consent— and every nuance of whose content was now parsed and analyzed in the press ad nauseum. Seriously, friends. Such cloak-and-daggerism is not the meat and potatoes of the highest levels of Canadian government. This is high-school drama, the sort of subterfuge the nerdy, overly-sensitive President of the Debating Society deploys on the mean boys in the motorcycle jackets who tease her about her acne. I draw the following conclusions: There is no scandal or wrongdoing to be found, and no one is seriously claiming there is. This whole affair was a cynical, calculated exercise in throwing mud and seeing how much would stick. Progressive Conservatives and their official mouthpiece, the Globe & Mail, were more than willing to leverage public ignorance of our government and our legal system and to misrepresent both the substance and context of events. Let’s see what we have: A Native MP, a woman, being hounded by the “feminist” PM; “punitive” demotions and Cabinet shuffles; sudden resignations, corporate criminals going scott free; secret recordings! Perfect ingredients for the perfect spin, a narrative that could create enough doubt to cast the prime minister as a sneak and a bully, and make Canadians question his judgment and even his legitimacy. The ultimate goal? Bring down Justin Trudeau at any cost. Did Trudeau attempt to influence the attorney general’s decision?
Of course he did, because this is exactly what is expected in our adversarial legal system. Is SNC-Lavalin a great, big, heavy-duty Glad bag full of sleaze? Sure, but no more so than any other corporation doing what capitalism does best, i.e., feed itself. Is Justin Trudeau an entitled, opaque, overgrown brat who expected business as usual with the boys in the backroom and who doesn’t understand how his apparent belief that he is not obliged to justify any action, or tell the whole truth, ever, reveals him as shifty and arrogant? It would seem that way. Were any laws broken? No. Did anything happen that was even out of line? Apart from maybe Nancy Drew and the Case of the Secret Phone Call, not even close. This was a scandal-free scandal, a big helping of Nothing-Poutine, yet the Progressive Conservatives made a meal of it, bulking up the thinnest material with insinuation and indignation. More insidiously, they caught the attention of the white male demographic that despises Trudeau; despises him for being his father’s son; despises his patrician upbringing and gentility; despises what they see as his “girliness,” his drama teaching days, his avowed feminism, never acknowledging that he grew up breathing politics as the son of Pierre, our most flamboyant and also most intellectually rigorous statesman, the man who held this country together with his bare hands when it threatened to disintegrate and would not let go until it was out of danger. The trolls and the disgruntled slingers of mud forget Justin’s long years of political dues-paying and his resounding success in 2015; and they are apoplectic at Trudeau’s inclusiveness, his generosity, his uncanny ability to unite Canadians, to embody our pride, to build and articulate our identity and our collective vision for this brave, fragile confederation, this country that is barely more than a wish, a dream, an idea of a country. Trudeau inspires; white male conservatives, fuming with hard-hatted rage at their diminishing hold on power, carp and threaten and bury their heads in the tar sands and call, shamefully, for a return to “European values.” They are full of that odious, passionate intensity; the very worst, as always, dragging down the very best. ₪ #JustinTrudeau #FaithGoldy #CommonSenseRevolution #JodyWilsonRaybould #SNCLavalin
I am Washing the Kitchen Floor…
… and I’m sad about Glenda. Three Women: Left to right: Alice Munro; Glenda Jackson x 2; Kate Bush. I AM SCANTILY CLAD AND ON MY HANDS and knees in the middle of the night, but on this particular occasion, curiously, there’s no one else here saying, “Hey, pig, fancy a toot of this?” or, less encouraging, “You were a lot thinner in your pictures!” I’m known for my high standards, which I outsource to everyone else so I can be disappointed more easily; but I’ve decided it’s time to start on-boarding Muggins McMe with this, whatsis, “grown-up” agenda I keep hearing about. I am going to, as they say, own this. That’s why, at two AM, I’m on all fours, wearing nothing but a baby blue bath towel and accessorized with a simple, large-yet-tasteful bucket of scalding hot water and lavender-scented Pine-Sol, would you excuse me for a sec?— —Hi mom! Are you listening? They have Pine-Sol in flavors now! And I’m so glad you died because that means I didn’t have to! — —as I was saying: A bucket of scalding hot water and Pine-Sol, plus, from The Little Bee— my local convenience store—the cheapest available sponge, which bears about as much relation to a once-living creature from a coral reef as does a politician compare to the dimply, cooing ingenuousness of their two-year-old former self, before they learned to hide the peas by stuffing them up their nostrils then denying they ever got served peas. And I’m scouring and scrubbing my kitchen floor, an unlovely checkerboard of once-white tiles flecked with black, in a dogged, circular motion. I suppose the white flecked with black was meant to suggest Carrara marble to people who’ve never seen it, but as the tiles were left unsealed this has allowed them to soak up every splotch of ketchup, every dollop of pesto or splash of coffee, every dribble from my bursting bladder relieved in the sink, damn the fine china, I’ve got anti-bacterial Palmolive. My kitchen floor is a grimy palimpsest of sixteen-year-old condiment spills, pretentious dinner parties and avoidable crises. I’M THINKING OF MY FAVORITE Kate Bush song as I scrub: “Mrs Bartolozzi,” from 2005’s concept album “Aerial,” treating as it does of a forlorn housekeeper wiping up mud from boots and dutifully, wearily, scrubbing the floor “until it sparkled…” Although my adoration of Ms. Bush only grows year by year, it is despite, not because of, her poetry, which I usually find too reminiscent of a cliché teenage girl’s lyrical diary (“It was just so beautiful, it was just so beautiful, it was just—so —beau-ti-ful!” are the words which nearly cause me to run screaming from the room and ruin the second half of “Aerial” for me) but this song is different. This song, a haunting piano ballad, is full of pregnant pauses, this song has a perfect and serene depiction of the washing machine, washing machine and its soothing mechanical splishy-sploshing as it gets “the dirty shirty clean;” the aching emotions—loneliness, sorrow, yearning—of its ritornello transport you to every moment you’ve ever spent doing work you detest, every moment when you wished your life away. This song is not really about the never-ending drudgery of daily life, that unending cycle of banal routines that I endlessly chafe at. It is about the ripple, the dazzle, the shimmer; the unveiled reality that suddenly manifests and evokes our gasp of recognition. Mrs. Bartolozzi has a laundry epiphany: “I watched them go 'round and 'round
My blouse wrapping itself in your trousers
Oh the waves are going out
My skirt floating up around my waist
As I wade out into the surf...”
— Kate Bush, "Mrs. Bartolozzi", from Aerial (2005) And a shirt on the washing line, waving in the breeze, becomes the arms of—who is it? Lover, husband, son? “And it looks—so alive…” I’m the kind of guy who attempts to infect as many people as possible with his quirky enthusiasms. Once, during the early morning hours when my apartment had been invaded by an entitlement of millennials—I tried, I really did, to come up with a different collective noun, please believe me—I mentioned “Kate Bush” to a drunken young lady and was rewarded with a blank stare. Drunken Young Lady had already had an earful from me as I met her and her male companions at the entrance to my building. I didn’t even attempt to disguise my disapproval bordering on disgust. “Did you forget to wear your pants, dear?” I had asked during the elevator ride, with every ounce of old gay guy contempt and withering disapproval I could corral. “Or did you just come straight from the beach?” She was wearing her “waitressing uniform:” a leather micro-skirt that I had first mistaken for a large belt, and a sloppy T-shirt that stopped just below her big naturals, baring a roll of belly fat a twenty-something had no business flaunting. Her face was red and sweaty as a coal miner’s and her skin exuded a nasty odor of ketosis that enraged me. And at some point during the next three hours I mentioned Kate Bush, got the blank stare, and proceeded to give her a boomer 101 music appreciation lecture, starting with “Wuthering Heights” and touching all the major pit stops up to “Aerial.” “I wanna be up, up on the roof…” As the boys polished off the remaining food and beers and packed up to leave and my impromptu torture session drew to a close, Drunken Young Lady had a manners bump that broke the cover of her relentless apologies. Her hastily-awakened correct deportment suddenly pulled down its frilly knickers and gave its crotch a nice old scratch, like Eliza Doolittle screaming “Move yer bleedin’ arse!” at Ascot. As she stumbled towards the front door, she turned to me and, with the excruciating good manners of the insincere, blurted out: “Thanks for telling me about The Lady.” Kate Bush—The Lady—utterly feminine in the way she celebrates both her sexual appetite and her power—understands how not to be a lady; she’s not afraid to handle the soiled linens that once touched someone’s body. She understands that a strangled cry at a phantom on the washing line, or a guttural growl of Wow, are necessary colors in the singer’s spectrum. And it’s just—so—beautiful. ALICE MUNRO, ONE OF THE TWO OR THREE greatest writers of short fiction now living, is Canadian. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013, and I imagine she must have an awards room, the way Imelda Marcos had a separate building for her shoes, so many has she received. So you could say, without much fear of contradiction, that Alice Munro is no slouch in the writing department. The other day I asked someone if he liked her stories, and he said, “Who’s Alice Munro?” Who’s Alice Munro… If this were Japan, Alice Munro would be like Mount Fuji, or the person who invented life-sized sex dolls, or the one remaining Buddhist monk who can explain how to dye silk using vegetables according to a one-thousand-year-old method. She would be made a “Living Treasure” and would be revered “by young and old alike.” Every Canadian would be proud of Alice Munro; we would have read all of her stories, voluntarily, and stage adaptations would be common. We’d attend the premieres of these plays, and afterwards go to a coffee shop and argue about how faithful it was to the original. We’d wear Alice Munro T-shirts while gardening, and we would understand how Munro has recorded a uniquely Canadian angle on life that is as subtle as Chekhov, also as funny (because in this fantasy we also don’t say, “who’s Chekhov?”). On the day the Nobel Prize was announced a national celebration would have occurred. Children would have been given the day out of school; window washers and bankers and kids on skateboards and those down on their luck, and everyone’s wife and boss, if they had these, would have had a holiday, too. Alice Munro would have been the centerpiece of a grand parade, with her own float, a parade heading from Christie Pits, all along Bloor Street then down Yonge and ending up in Nathan Phillips Square. Little girls dressed in white would have accompanied her, throwing flowers at the spectators as she passed by. She would sit on her special throne on the float, wearing bright-colored slacks, Spectator pumps and a plain white blouse with a big bow in the front. Her silver hair would be beautifully layered. She would look genuinely pretty, with a touch of coral lipstick her only make-up. She would look like the first generation of women who called themselves “liberated” (which they were only in comparison to their mothers); the first generation to dare to wear pantsuits to work, where they worked mainly if they wanted to, or even to make a point, but not always because they had to. She would smile rather shyly and wave at the crowd with sincere affection and you would sense she might want to cry from overwhelming emotion, but would not indulge herself; you would understand that she is a writer and would be observing the occasion a little more than she would be participating. You would sense that she was deeply honored and aware of her responsibility to her fans, but also thinking, “I’ll be glad when this is over and I can go home and take off these damn shoes.” That evening, in Nathan Phillps Square, after the fireworks display, she reads her latest story, broadcast nationwide. The audience listens in enthralled silence; children are told, “You’ll remember this when you grow up!” At the end of the story grandfathers wipe the tears from their eyes; women weep openly. Then a great roar of appreciation and hats in the air: Our greatest living writer! When she appeared in public wearing her kimono we would rush up to her giggling and prostrate ourselves, and she would laugh and say, “Who do you think you are? Arise!” And when she passed on, which could be tomorrow, because she’s really old now, we would go into mourning nationally and cry uncontrollably, like the traumatized Parisians watching Notre-Dame’s spire collapse in flames, and we’d be given time off work to deal with our collective grief. But this is not Japan. This is Toronto, the city without a soul, where we say, “The Arts generate a lot of money! That’s why they’re important!” in a really chirpy voice, while condo developers roll their eyes then check the latest stock prices. GLENDA JACKSON IS ANOTHER cast member in the ongoing sixty-four-part epic, vast, eclectic cultural survey and revamped Mickey Mouse Club that is my life; another name that evokes blank stares from Young People whenever I try to explain who she is and what she did, what she is still doing, why they should care even though they won’t, and how she underpins my favorite movie: Ken Russell’s masterpiece,“Women in Love.” (Of course, there are far too many concepts here to absorb, at least for a Young Person’s mind unused to absorbing more than one concept at a time, and especially concepts that do not have immediate application for getting someone to cook dinner for you or that involve anything that happened more than six months ago. This pile-on might approach trauma-inducing levels if you’ve mentioned that you “own this movie on DVD.” (The panic in their faces is heartbreaking, which you will notice if you’re lucky enough to catch them during the daily ten-second window during which they look up from their device and blink.) Women in Love may well be the only movie that’s actually greater than the book on which it’s based, or, alright, then, if you must, as great as. Glenda Jackson’s presence is elemental in that movie; her voice like the chalumeau register of a clarinet, measured, honeyed, even as she torments Oliver Reed (as Gerald Crich, a wealthy mine owner who’s besotted with her); torments him until, nullified, he curls up in the snow under a brilliant, indifferent Alpine sun. Only suicide in the icy embrace of Mother Nature can numb the agony of his emasculation. Jackson as Gudrun Brangwen is the quintessential femme fatale but translated into Anglo-Saxon terms, torturing her hapless male, despising his servitude yet refusing to leave until his destruction is complete. (Her response to Gerald’s death? “I think I’ll go to Dresden. For a while.”) One of the most vivid and astonishing scenes takes place during a garden party on the Crich estate. Gudrun and her sister Ursula (perfectly portrayed by the exquisite Jennie Linden) ask Gerald Crich if they can escape for a while; he sees they are provided with a picnic basket and the women find a secluded spot. All is peaceful English pastoral until the two women are suddenly menaced by a herd of bulls. What happens next is unforgettable: Gudrun confronts the beasts, enchants them and chases them off with a transcendent, improvised dance that is a celebration of female mystery and power. Jackson invests what could have been laughable with such conviction that we believe in her magic. The message is clear: male energy is plodding, boorish, anxious, all blustery show; female energy is mercurial, teasing, unpredictable, hornet-like. No contest. The bulls scatter, a ton of trouble conquered by a wisp of a girl. As she half swoons in a kind of spent, solipsistic afterglow, Gerald rushes up to save her. But he’s too late and already irrelevant; she’s drunk with her victory. “How are they your cattle,” she says, with palpable contempt; “Did you swallow them?” She gives his face a swift, unexpected smack with the back of her hand, and the gesture is all the more demeaning for its spontaneity. It’s the way you’d brush away an annoying insect, without any energetic investment or sense of struggle. Women in Love, from 1970, presents Jackson in her youth; last week, I called up the New York Times online to read about her celebrated turn as King Lear (she’s returned to acting in her eighties, after twenty years in the British House of Commons as Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate) and I experienced the shock of seeing her for the first time as an elderly woman. Glenda Jackson looks like a sock puppet that’s been left out in the rain, then dried on a radiator. Her unconventional but undeniable beauty, in her twenties composed of equal parts dewy English rose and bovine sensuality, has contracted, no doubt in part to her smoking habit, into a loose, sagging face that’s an accretion of wrinkles. With most people you can trace how they’ve traveled from there to here, still unearth the familiar features, but Glenda Jackson is unrecognizable in a way that defies all my attempts to connect my youthful memory of her and how age has since worked her over. Her face is a desert scored by cracks and fissures, an arid landscape Edward Burtynsky might photograph; her face is an apple that you’ve stuck in the fridge and forgotten, retrieving it a year later to find it brown and withered; and from that face she peers at us with an expression that is part amazement, part defiance. I’d give anything to see her turn on Broadway as Lear, but I’m afraid. I’m afraid of her voice of righteous anger, in full throttle arguably the least maternal and comforting sound ever to issue from a woman’s body. I’m afraid of what she has told me about how the most beautiful can turn monstrous and alien under the pressure of time. I am sad about Glenda Jackson, and you will not need your psychology degree to understand that that is another, less blatantly self-interested way of saying I’m sad for myself, about getting old. You looked a lot thinner in your pictures. That’s why I continue scrubbing the floor, in a dogged, circular motion, with my sponge dipped in near-scalding water and lavender-scented Pine-Sol and my soul dipped in regret for every moment lost. I will redeem myself. I will persist at this chore that I previously despised and I will prove my housekeeping critics wrong. I will get this done. How should I spend the rest of my life? The question now haunts me. I’d been a blissed-out swimmer in a sparkling endless ocean of allotted time. I hadn’t noticed until recently the thin mark of the shoreline on the horizon as I drift towards a destination I never chose.
Every minute now is consciously spent or squandered. Housekeeping or writing? Practising the piano or caulking the bathtub? Why would I watch Game of Thrones when I’ve never read “In Search of Lost Time”? When I’m on my deathbed— —a rather extravagant, even cinematic, concept that assumes I don’t plunge to my death upside down in a Boeing 757 with someone’s vegetarian meal shoved up my nose, and everyone texting; or fade away five seconds after I smell burning and see, through a curtain of blood, my limbs flying across the subway car and my guts spilling out all red and blue, which is the moment I realize that a suicide bomber has— —whatever happens, if I have the time to fade away graciously (I’m thinking Melanie in Gone With the Wind for the total ninny factor), I’m fairly sure I won’t be clutching my lace handkerchief and thinking I’m glad I washed the kitchen floor. I’ll be thinking: I’m glad I wrote a book that made people laugh. Maybe slightly less than they might have had I not explained all the jokes to them for two years, but, in the end, laughed. I’m glad I took beautiful pictures, and so what if they turned out to be placemats. I’m glad I learned to play Beethoven’s Bagatelles, Opus 126, in my dotage, impressing beyond all description my houseful of young thugs who’d never heard anything but rap. I’m glad I said kind words when I could have said unkind ones, and instead wrote down the unkind words for worldwide publication and universal consumption. I’m glad I forgave again and again, because you never quite know how much forgiveness you’ll need for yourself. Think of the people you forgive as your forgiveness bank account. Sincerity? As if! I reckon I’m a good twenty years from that tasteful cough and final exhale. Right now, tonight, I’m on my hands and knees at two AM, alone, in my kitchen, cleaning up my mess. No one told me to do this. There’s no one to criticize me, or pat me on the head. There’s no one here to help me; no lover to give me an excuse to procrastinate, no one to kiss, no one to entertain or comfort or argue with. It’s taken sixty-four years, but I’m finally the designated adult. Under my right knee is a sliver of glass or possibly a very hard English muffin crumb. A cockroach, the first I’ve seen in months, scurries along the baseboard and slips into a crack that’s thinner than a hair. My hands sting when I plunge them into the hot water and Pine-Sol, the fumes make me squint. Splishy-sploshy wishy-washy. Scrubbing the kitchen floor is not a task I’m engaged in until real life comes along; it is real life, every sweat-stained second of it. The kitchen floor will be clean and sparkling, so that everyone will notice it and say, “That is, unmistakably, David’s floor.” I’m determined to be ready for that unspecified day fast approaching when I’m not around to defend myself. ֍ #AliceMunro #GlendaJackson #aging #KateBush #famouswomen
Lectins: Just in case you thought it was safe to eat something.
Maybe… frosting? I HAD A BRIEF ACTING CAREER, beginning in London, England, in the late nineteen-eighties and continuing in Toronto in the early to mid nineteen-nineties, and the scary quotes around acting are so much a given that I spared myself the trouble of including them. In London I awarded myself the status of “alternative theatre performer,” often regaling audiences of one whole person, whom I would have bribed with beer to leave the actual drinking area of the pub and follow me to the tiny pub stage. On certain red-letter days, and how intoxicating they were, I entertained real audiences of tens of people at venues such as the “Mandela Theatre Company,” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (this was, of course, the brainchild of a bunch of overly-earnest white boys from London’s East End). Then London was over, it was time to head home again after sixteen years, and somewhere above the mid-Atlantic, with a couple of Valium and a few gins-and-tonics under my belt, I graduated from happy-go-lucky, alternative-weird singer-songwriter cabaret artiste to grimly determined official union-status-seeking commercial auditioner. My London adventure, three thousand miles from the raised eyebrows and tut-tuts of my family, had given me the anonymity to be whoever I liked, which frequently turned out to be a self-consciously eccentric, head-turning, leotard-wielding androgyne singing Sondheim with sparkle on my cheeks. Once home again, however, I downgraded the quirk and upgraded my leotard to a suit, lost the piercings, combed my neatly cut hair and basically transformed myself into the dullest employee in the Acme Widget Corporation so as to maximize my chances of offending no one. I’d had the naïve idea that acting would liberate me from faceless dronery, and ended up presenting for these new, commercial auditions a more conservative persona than I had ever presented at a real job. Highlights of my gigs included spokesperson for an early cell phone infomercial, where I was undone by a sudden, total inability to pronounce the word “cellular;” an audition where I accidentally, I think, let a baby fall flat on its little back; and a student filmmaker’s version of a wonderfully nasty short play by Harold Pinter, whose principal role I ate up like a handful of Smarties and in which I gave my best performance in anything, ever—and which could never be screened because the student filmmaker hadn’t bothered to acquire the rights. Then the day comes, as it must to any actor, that tests one’s commitment to The Muse. This test can take many forms, but for me it was the day I was sent to audition as a tomato. Oh, you heard. East Side Mario’s bada boom bada bing was the restaurant, I was to be Mr. Tomato Head and a young boy was to be my son, the small, possibly cherry, or even grape, tomato. We were fitted with gigantic papier maché tomatoes that covered our actual, human heads but contained no eye holes, and the audition was that dad and son, tomato-headed like prisoners at Guantánamo Bay undergoing sensory deprivation, were to move our dadly-sonly tomato-heads from side to side, rhythmically, to music. Does this not sound like a shoo-in? Alas, little Tommy Tomato, apparently taking after his mother’s side of the family, lacked a truly swingin’ sense of rhythm, or at least the same sense as me. We held hands, we swung our tomato heads to the left, two three four, and to the right, two three four, and every so often my little sun-ripened offspring would get out of step and add a five or forget the four and our hollow tomato-heads would clunk resonantly together. This was only funny the first time, if by funny you mean desperately or, in fact, not remotely. I didn’t receive a call-back for this one—some evenings I still fall to my knees and ask forgiveness of the Black Virgin of Katowice for briefly hoping that little Tommy Tomato might spend his final days in Sick Kids’ Hospital as mascot for the Make a Wish Foundation—but at first I took my failure as a tomato with a measure of resilience. I left the casting call full of swelling pride, thinking, “Is this why I studied Shakespeare and read the complete works of Charles Ludlam? To play a tomato? I think not! Pastafazool’—!” But, as I am easily discouraged, my mojo was consumed by a slow-simmering ragú of resentment, and my acting career from that day seemed to me nothing but sour, tomato-y leftovers.. MY NEMESIS THE TOMATO HAS returned, but in a more apocalyptic form, as the latest food scourge terrorizing the public, for tomato skins are brimming with lectins, the new bad thing that once again wipes the slate clean of what you thought was safe to eat. Grains, pulses and dairy have already bit the dust, and I gather we will soon be celebrating brunch with no-salt flax chips washed down—a phrase perhaps intended to evoke Sir Galahad and his fellow lusty knights clinking their tankards together, but which actually makes me think of waste sluicing down a drain—with gulps of flavor-dropped water, to ease through our gullets a pomegranate cutlet, a raw, unwashed organic carrot and either lots of eggs or lots of tofu, depending on whether you want a coronary for yourself or breasts for your new boyfriend, who’s cheating death by breathing slower. Lectins—and this is just off the top of my head, but as I’m reporting on a shaky-science food fad masquerading as doctorly concern, accuracy is the last thing we need—are something that tomatoes, potatoes, beans and eggplant all devised through natural selection to make themselves unpalatable to predators, including us. Thus, goes the reasoning, they will shred your gastrointestinal tract more efficiently than if you’d swallowed a box of safety razors and chased them with Javex, and are additionally responsible for your overweight, your loud expulsions of gas during client meetings, your allergic response to getting a job, your surly mood and your dwindling Rolodex of people you can call for a good gossip at three AM. Besides, most of these culprits are also nightshades, like tobacco, as I learned when I was macrobiotic, which is the spiritual system of eating according to the seasons, your health and your geography, except just throw that all out and if it’s Japanese, it’s ok. Breakfast, already captioned “heart-attack-on-a-plate” by the British, who recklessly fry slices of bread in bacon fat and would fry the cutlery and place mats if they could figure out how, must now be consumed wearing a nuclear jumpsuit, so hazardous to human health are its grilled kidneys, sausages, hash brown potatoes and rashers torn from a pig who was deliberately given a heart attack, just for fun, before it was hauled up on a medieval torture device to have its penis sliced off. But for the lectin-wary, there is hope. Maybe, just maybe, goes this week’s new-old wisdom, maybe if you follow the Italian method and peel your tomatoes, sieve out the seeds and cook the tomatoes for twelve hours while wearing nonna’s black wool knee socks, cardigan and kerchief—occasionally fiddling with the hairs sprouting out of the mole on your cheek—maybe then you can have the occasional tomato without actually having your stomach prolapse out of your rectum one night as you’re ordering a drink during the first intermission of “Parsifal”. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. This whole thread reminds me of the endless negotiations I have with my roommate about vegetables, which Mike considers a crime against humanity or a least a gradually evolving plot. I spend time trying to figure out what the common factors might be: Is it, for example, squishiness? No, he hates raw carrots because they involve biting into and crunchiness. I see, it’s anything that’s work—this is all coming together! So, would he like carrots that have been cooked with a roast until meltingly soft and glazed? “Maybe,” he says, with obvious suspicion about what I’m planning to pull on him. “I had some peas when I was about fifteen,” he says. I know that he’s humoring me by saying nice things about vegetables, hoping I’ll go away. “I didn’t mind them too much. They were small and I could swallow them whole, so the taste wasn’t a problem. Otherwise I might have hurled.” I only mentioned broccoli once, before I learned that Mike was Secretary of the Toronto Anti-Brassica League, Abuse Recovery Division. “Most people are highly allergic, or at least sensitive, to a compound in broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage,” he says. “Like, a squirrel can die after eating Brussels sprouts.” He gives me a moment to let this sink in. I respond that at pushing forty he will need to get accustomed to at least pretending to like certain things, or any dinner party that’s not a table for four at Swiss Chalet and a box of Cracker Jack will be, how can I put this, a social challenge. This is, of course, only relevant if he plans to leave the house any time soon. “Maybe you could shred Brussels sprouts,” he says, “and put them in a cake.” WHO KNOWS WHEN THE ROT SET IN? I remember that in the late fifties and early sixties my mother, like millions of others, was in thrall to the convenience and space-age wonder of instant beverages, pudding mixes, canned or dehydrated soups, cakes made with Miracle Whip, and TV dinners, though technology had not yet advanced to the point of having the alien-tasting Salisbury steak and the apple crisp simultaneously hot. Soon, we were certain, we’d be squeezing boeuf Bourguignon into our mouths out of toothpaste tubes, thereby maximizing the two extra days we’d have for leisure by the swimming pool once computers had relieved us of workday drudgery and we’d all decamped to the Riviera arm-in-arm with a wealthy industrialist. That wasn’t science, it was marketing; food voodoo. In the nineties, it was Stop the Insanity! (remember Susan Powter?) as we were scolded about fat. Fat makes you fat! What could be more obvious? And we measured out our oil with teaspoons and bought hydrogenated margarine, and had salads with just vinegar for dressing, and took the crispy skin off chicken. Boneless, skinless! No monastery could have devised ceremonies more penitential than our “fat-free” meals. Until it became equally obvious that “carbs” made you fat. What do they feed cattle to make them fat? Carbs! Grains! (Yes, and to make them sick, too; cattle evolved to eat grass, but that’s another horror story.) At the height of the Atkins craze, I heard a member of something like the Citrus Fruit Production Board interviewed, and I still remember her exasperated cry: “People are not getting fat eating oranges!” Oh, please! Fob us off with your agenda-pushing, self-dealing, half-assed nod to common sense, why don’t you? For me, the lowest point was the anti-bread hysteria. Bread is such a potent symbol for nourishment, home, togetherness: the staff of life, our daily bread, breaking bread, companion (someone you share bread with…) even, for the religiously inclined, a substance that might represent the physical presence of God… that to reject bread was to throw out a body of knowledge that was not exactly scientific, but at least empirical, amassed by means of trial and error, and from that perspective concrete, demonstrable. To curse bread was to reject our particular cultures, daily lives and even language; to pretend that all this time we knew nothing. How did mankind manage to survive this long? I wondered. And, sadly, in our collective amnesia, we’ve forgotten that food is a sensual pleasure. Taste those Omega-6 fatty acids! Thrill to those bioflavinoids! Seriously. This is not the way we need to think about food. We feast on pseudo-science and quackery, and forget that strawberries in January, flown in to Ontario from California, are as bloated and tasteless as they are inappropriate to the season. We’ll buy anything branded “natural,” but, really, our all-consuming greed is impatient with nature’s timing. If we’d wait until June or July, we’d remember—and experience—exquisite strawberries that we’d treasure for their taste, as glorious and ephemeral as summer. Humans are omnivores, eaters of potentially everything, and the “omnivore’s dilemma,” as explained by Michael Pollan, is basically, “How do we know what to eat?” The answer is culture—remember culture? Yeah neither do I—our collective knowledge that’s passed on to to us subliminally, at every meal. Culture is the cumulative wisdom of generations, of, eventually, our entire species, that’s passed down to us. This is why I celebrate Canadian multiculturalism, above the ‘melting pot’ model of the U.S. Americans, for all of their talk of individualism, aim for a vague “American” culture which turns out to be an aspiration to blank walls surrounding suburban conformity. Melting-pot minds, wiped free of useful traditions ask, “Should I have olive oil? or margarine?” The answer is obvious to Italians (the first) and marketers (the second). To find food culture again, we may have to think back two or more generations, to our grand- or even great grandparents, who weren’t afraid of food, who knew what was good and what was garbage and who trusted their great grandparents more than the shills promoting fake food and fake ideas. And now I’m going to lie in a dark room, staring at the ceiling, with a can of Betty Crocker vanilla frosting and a spoon. But no cake. Are you kidding? Cake is the worst thing. ֍ #foodfads #foodsensitivity #healthfood #lectins
What I Learned from my First Two Hundred Medium Stories
+plus+ Monday Man-Crush Digital illustration by David Roddis / sign graphic derived from a photo by Austin Chan (via Unsplash) I JUST REACHED TWO HUNDRED STORIES on Medium. I’m telling you this because I know how hard you are on yourself when you forget to hire the marching band, arrange a platter of clever hors d’oeuvres and invite the guests. Admit it: I go the extra mile for you. And I’m telling you this even though there’s, well — just a tiny whiff of imposter syndrome tainting my buzz, when I consider that, for example, one of my stories consists of only three words, and they are not “I love you.” But, still, two hundred. Here’s what I learned along the way: 1. Do lists, sometimes Everyone, except me, loves lists. Seriously loves. They’ll read “Ten Reasons Why Lists Suck.” They’ll read “Five Ways to Improve Your List About 10 Reasons We Hate Facebook, and did you see my cat video?” Takeaway: Two Pad Thai with shrimp, and some spring rolls. Couple of Coke Zero. Sorry, that’s take out. The take away is: make the occasional list. They’re light and breezy and full of Anne-of-Green-Gables plucky optimism, and promise quick stimulation, like a shot of espresso taken standing up. In fact, now that I’m writing one, I love lists! Another take away is that I occasionally channel my dad’s really corny sense of humor. Is there a dad without a really corny sense of humor? What is it about diapers and khaki pants from GAP that shreds whatever part of the amygdala that’s responsible for waspish rejoinders and Wildean epigrams? This is my first list. You’ve never heard of me, but that all changes today, baby. 2. Find a resonant, eye-catching image, or make one Gigantic, eye-popping images of unparalleled garishness (see above) are effective because they both attract and repel. It’s like not being able to resist driving back to view the aftermath of a non-fatal car pile-up. Or like watching Bernie Sanders try to be cool. Or well-groomed. Or electable. “I’m voting for social democracy / I’m voting for a Muppet.” Attract / repel. Remember: You’ll nab ’em with an image. But your content had better merit the attention, or they’ll wander off, probably to read a list because you were too high and mighty to think one up. Get over yourself, girlfriend! 3. Images, further advantages of Big images with lots of primary colors and lacking in subtlety make your article look significantly longer and more researched than it actually is. They’ll think, “Jeez, did she hire a graphic designer?” This is discouraging to many rookies. Which is great, because — less competition! You are rockin’ my list! 4. If you can’t take the heat… choose your battles You’ve got a loving heart. Now grow some thick skin. Engaging, however politely, with surly, obnoxious NRA supporters, if you’re a people-pleaser like me, goes well with a big helping of solipsism, i.e., don’t read their replies. Just stay in your Pollyanna bubble and talk to yourself, which you mostly do anyway. My one foray into this territory prompted My American Cousin to publish a gratuitously nasty, chauvinist, anti-Canada screed that oozed contempt, and in which he asserted I have no standing to discuss gun control in the U.S. (This may or may not be a point, depending on how many hot guns were smuggled into Toronto this past week.) As a response to his outpouring of bile I countered with my most concise story to date, which I wrote after I stopped crying. My story totalled three words: “Oh, fuck off.” This is either a triumph of not caring or a total decompensating cop-out. In retrospect, my only regret is that I didn’t say it twice. 5. Everything’s a “story” and that’s OK “Stories.” Ahem. Lord knows I’ve tried, but I’ve never quite acclimatized to calling an article a “story,” much less my short responses. Those I call responses. Yes, I am old. This is like Spotify calling the movements of a Beethoven symphony “songs.” “You can’t beat Beethoven’s Fifth —that first song is just so totally — woke!” Nope. That didn’t happen. Never said that. No, siree. 6. Be your authentic self Do you suddenly feel that you’re entirely on your own, out in the big bad world, where your mother is not going to stick your “story” on the fridge door because she’s so proud and impressed by your mouthing platitudes to a deaf choir? You’re absolutely right, you are. Learn to hold your own hand. Say what you want to say, not what you think people want to hear. You might open the eyes of one or two special readers, those who “get” you. They are like gold, and they are yours. You might even make them laugh, hopefully because you intended to. Above all, be your unique self. As an example: I’m flippant, shallow, self-involved and immature, but I try to make sure at least one person is snickering before the truth sinks in. 7. Don’t hog the last word You don’t always have to have the last word, you know, Mr. Smartass Buckaroo. Give someone else that dubious honor occasionally. This is a note to myself. 8. Practise random acts of taste It is the height of bad taste to engage with your critics — and face it, you know they’ll never come round. They are “entrenched,” you are “right.” By the way, if you are not familiar with the concept of “taste,” this is when you have every right to do something, then refrain from doing it. Taste therefore means good judgment. 9. Start. Finish. Repeat When I posted my first story on Medium, I was nervous. Well, with reason, because the first things I posted weren’t all that good. Oh, they were not. Oh, stop it. Really? You think so? But I know that by posting that first story I stepped out of my scared skin as a writer, and acquired a bit more space in the world. I stopped apologizing and worrying if I was any good and remembered that dreams and goals and ideas are like dime-store jewelry; taking action and completing something, just one thing, is worth a million unfulfilled, unfinished dreams. Bear in mind: You’ll probably have to leave the house at some point. I want the people who don’t think they have anything to offer, the people who are afraid, to step out of their own scared skin and complete something. I want them — is this you, perhaps? — to write any old rubbish, make a gesture with a paint brush, or sing and not care what it sounds like, not yet; and I want you to keep doing this until you’re done. Then I want you to do it again, and again, until you have a lifetime’s worth. Let me be perfectly clear: I’m talking about writers and artists. I’m all the way up to the waistband of my dollar store briefs, thanks anyway, with conservatives who have skins like elephants and all the zeal in the world around making the world a more hateful place. Feel free to not complete something, conservatives! Take a day or two off! OK! Back atcha! 10. Accept your possible irrelevance I will never be relevant. I have the reaction time of glaciers. I shift into high gear like metamorphic rock. I ponder. I have always been cursed with “l’esprit de l’escalier.” I’m at the pub, for example, and someone in the group standing next to me glances at my Friday Night Shirt, the blue and white paisley with the ruffles down the front, the shirt that must be special because I feel so uncomfortable wearing it. I leave this shirt untucked, lest my delusions about still retaining a thirty-inch waist be shattered by a wisp of Oxford cotton. This guy glances at me, turns to his friends and stage-whispers, “Nice shirt!” while rolling his eyes, and I take him at face value. I feel suitably attired, proud that I’m turning heads who is that distinguished gent who looks so good, backlit? and setting the bar just that little bit out of reach, for fashion’s sake. High fives! One night later that month, while slipping blissfully under the duvet, I’m ambushed by a nagging moment of uncertainty, followed by full-body blushing, and I sputter, “Why, goldarnit! I do believe he was — making fun of my shirt! That — that hooligan!” This is why I’m still polishing my satirical barbs about Hillary Clinton. It’s nice to find someone equally irrelevant, and, bless her, she gives and she gives. She’ll go on until the end of time, our little pink bunny, forever beating her drum. I think of Hillary and I as growing old together. Look for my Joe Biden satirical barbs around 2024. ֍ Monday Man-Crush: Doug. Just—Doug. WELCOME TO THE RECURRING FEATURE, previously an occurring feature because this is only the second time it has occurred, that has you on the edge of your organic kneeling-chair, called “Monday Man-crush,” which I am posting on a Sunday. My timelines, you surely have noted, are not of mere human proportion. My timelines are those of mountains, of giant tortoises, of asparagus beds; they scoop their arcs with the majesty of Emily Dickinson contemplating the starry vault as she rolls her lisle stockings down to her ankles, then sets up her large-format view camera for a thirty-minute selfie. Also, I’m disorganized as shit. MM-C points the well-manicured index finger of random interweb glory and/or ridicule at the unwitting, luscious straight guys who have caused the sludgy, congealed sap of my involuntary celibacy to melt into man-lust then burble and spurt along the byways of my gnarly tree-trunk. Ka-pow! Now, meet Doug. But may I just say: Hands OFF, Murgatroyd. Love, if it comes, comes too late. ֍ #bloggingtips #Medium #MondayManCrush #writingforMedium
Meritocracy? That’s Rich!
playing fair is one luxury the privileged can’t afford AS A LOYAL READER OF THIS BLOG, YOU will of course be aware that I’ve previously come out as favoring rubies.
Mmmm, rubies! Let’s be absolutely sure we’re on the same page, here: I’m talking great, honking, shameless clusters of square-cut rubies with lots and lots of nice, big diamonds.
And I know what you’re thinking: Total! NO! BRAINER!! But I have to confess I’m also rather fond of oodles and oodles of cabochon-cut turquoise with blue sapphire and diamond accents mounted in 18K yellow gold, by Van Cleef & Arpels, see left. Now there’s something a girl could make sacrifices for, once a girl has figured out just exactly what there is left of herself that hasn’t already been sacrificed. What can I say? Like any other eligible piece of daddy-tail between the age of sixty and death, je suis tellement fatigué. I’m not always up to squeezing me, the toothpaste, back into the crinkled, overworked tube of my Fortuny gown, slapping on forty carats of ruby and diamond cuff, retail value $1,229,540.74, then heading to the corner store flanked by twelve Mounties in full regalia just because I fancy a couple of butter tarts and some commemorative postage.
And, frankly, I need to hold back for my fans’ sake, keep just a hint of mystery: “Who is that distinguished, solitary gentleman? How young he looks when backlit, at dawn!” Honestly? I just want to slum it, sometimes. OK, OK, like, busted! You got me! But hear me out, Murgatroyd McGraw, because being rich is not just all about the gold ingots and heirloom silver and Old Masters and crisp, bundled banknotes piled up to the ceiling in your second-best ballroom with the rococo panelling. It’s also all about the jaw-dropping savings: At $135,000, this timeless, elegant piece of clumps of polished gravel works out cheaper than rubies, making this the more sensible extravagance. And it leaves me more moolah in my Cayman Islands bank account for calling up Uber Eats and ordering a foie gras BLT and a Cherry Coke teased into significance with a spritz of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin. (My signature cocktail, the “Power Drill,” great for trepanning yourself the morning after a fun yet overly-demanding night out). Buying oodles of turquoise instead of bushels of rubies, my little sycophants, is true sacrifice. Let me express this in terms you can understand: It’s like buying a can of No-Name tomatoes instead of the ones you really want: A clamshell of grape tomatoes, each one clutching its affidavit of organic provenance, that just flew into town First Class from Mexico. Maybe Van Cleef & Arpels should make jewelry outta those! How do you think people get as rich and obnoxious as me? That’s right. The more you spend, the more you save! We get rich by driving our petro-swilling SUV right through the plate-glass windows of your sad little local hardware store, leaving behind the crushed bodies of Fred Helply, the rosy-cheeked proprietor, and his cheery staff, and right up to the loading bay of Walmart, where we pick up bottled tap water by the pallet, gallons of Dijon mustard, two thousand rolls of quilted toilet tissue. And we get obnoxious by tearing a strip off the radicalized environmentalists and panda-fuckers who think that’s wasteful: “Two thousand year-old trees? Try wiping your ass with a giant sequoia, then give us a call!” Also, we rich people get rich primarily by inheriting our wealth. In other words, we get and stay rich through the sheer randomness of the birth lottery, which determines whether we’re lying in a Blue Almonds baby basket on a sand dune in East Hampton, tiny mouths clamped onto a silver spoon first used by Queen Anne, or lying on a sand dune in Sudan, crawling with flies, arms and legs like matchsticks, and bellies swollen with malnutrition as we await our wretched, imminent death from starvation. This is problematic. We’d prefer to believe we’re in East Hampton not through sheer randomness but because—well, because of all that we’ve achieved. Like being born in East Hampton and inheriting our wealth. Once we’ve taken care of our patrician roots, we can relax, even more than we do already. We multiply and preserve our wealth through economies of scale (which the poor can’t access because their cars have been repossessed, leaving them surviving on canned creamed corn and jujubes from the local bodega); and by pinching those pennies so hard they squeal louder than Ann Coulter in tit clamps. Speaking as the sissy-boy who shared a chambre communicante plus bidet with Ann while we were both Broadway hopefuls, making rounds all afternoon, eatin’ in a greasy spoon to save on our dough-oh—and yes, Sondheim gave me permission—I can assure you those squeals are a decibel or two hundred off the charts. Ann! I told you! Never spramp your bleedywunquet with hot water—you’ll come up like a Shoppers Drug Mart hemorrhoid cushion! My flushing the toilet at just the wrong moment thereby appropriating all the cold had nothing to do with it! Thriftiness is a virtue, especially when we’re asked to pay for some homeless person’s heart bypass or motel housing, instead of setting up another trust fund. This is when we say, “Running a bit low, sorry, and charity begins at home!” When a stagnant economy forces us to live within our means, give me stinking rich any day! Extravagant, money-leaking poor people soon find the alternative, parasitic lifestyle that seemed so alluring when they read “Oliver Twist” is shockingly expensive. You’ve got no choice but to live in some trailer park where the landlord charges you usurious interest rates on your overdue rent, and you can’t even threaten shopkeepers with taking your business elsewhere, because there’s only one shop within walking distance, therefore no elsewhere. Why someone would choose to live like that, with not a single elsewhere to relieve the monotony—well, it just boggles my mind. It’s verging on—somebody has to say it, and here goes Mr. Straight-Talkin’ Unpopular—irresponsible. The week drew to a close, as I lounged in my bower of white Vanda orchids, with the revelation that rich people—TV stars, and food processing magnates and jewelry designers and more TV stars and dentists and even superstar lawyers (!)— had botched their bribery of posh private colleges. Instead of sticking with the traditional signing of a million-dollar cheque for a new library and presenting it to the bursar while the cameras flashed and hands were shaken and, in an examination hall nearby, little Ziggy struggled with his entrance essay—then waiting until someone on the Board of Directors saw the check, and Ziggy’s essay, and put two and two together—some genius decided to change the M.O. Suddenly it was skulduggery and cryptic emails and entrance exams taken three times in two different states, images with their kids’ heads Photoshopped onto the bodies of volleyball players—and, I like to imagine, two A.M. trysts in the quadrangle. Money is the best merit money can buy Our ever-intrepid parents of the privileged tiptoed across ancient lawns under pitch black, moonless skies until someone hissed, “Hey, over here!”—which so distracted mom and dad that their Ferragamo shoes got stuck in the roots of a three-hundred year old oak tree, and they fell, faces and cheque books first, into the arms of an athletics coach who just happened to be passing by. Happy coincidence! And if you can believe it, thanks to the appalling negligence of the groundskeepers, this happened fifty times! You’d think they’d have at least devised a warning sign— perhaps a silhouette of Barbara Hutton tripping over some tree roots, with maybe a lightning bolt pointing at her feet to indicate something painful, then a great, big X through everything to make it clear that this was not a desirable outcome. You’d think, at least! The revelation that shameless, entitled rich people had bought their kids advantages they didn’t in any way deserve, just more blatantly than last week, was barely news, and certainly not “the end of meritocracy!” Calm down! This is no end to meritocracy. It’s just another pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Oz has spoken! type of socially awkward event where we’re all in cahoots, but have to pretend we’re not, like when Granny Rockefeller farts in church, or when Egbert uses the crème brulée spoon for the fish course. One of those moments when we admit there’s a big charade going on, look at each other, laugh ruefully, oh, that Egbert! He’s just incorrigible! then go right on charading. There is a kind of meritocracy at work, just not the overly-literal, humorless, taking-itself-seriously meritocracy that insists on, well, merit. What’s that po-faced fucktardery all about? Think Kardashians, Hiltons, Trumps, gold medallists in the Olympics of Vulgar, oligarchs of the moronic moneyed. (Or think Koch brothers, DeVos, the Republican party and the Progressive Conservatives at prayer: Sleazy deals and dark Webs; Deep States and French-kissing Godfathers; dissident journalists dismembered in embassies. Whether that’s unspeakable horror or all in a day’s work depends on your job description.) Merit has always been required, but the trick is to define merit so that it’s in plentiful supply and available to our de facto kings and queens. WASP lineage? Merit will be an IQ test, to keep out Jews. Ineffective? Jews turned out to be annoyingly smart, and SAT’s were born. The privileged class, rather than staking its claim based on true merit—skill, intelligence, integrity—even once, has cleverly devised barriers that screen out whatever they don’t have, leaving them with one attribute they could all agree on. Money is the best merit money can buy, and the American crown princes, those scions of food packaging empires and hedge fund dynasties, deserve nothing less. Our quasi-royalty of the republic don’t need to be interesting, trustworthy, ethical or talented, or even know how to pronounce noblesse oblige. Their louder-than-a-Lily-Pulitzer-pantsuit message is: If we can get dosh, anybody can. All you need to do is stoop low enough, preferably while taking a selfie for Instagram. Someone invents an electronic toy that no one needs, until the marketers and influencers tell us we do—think Apple Watch and thousand-dollar iPhones; gigantic “Smart” TVs that hijack our living rooms; robot sidekicks that might delight an unsophisticated three-year-old; Bluetooth headsets that turn their wearers into obtuse, self-styled celebrities broadcasting their delusions of grandeur at our backs—and we’re lobbing fistfuls of our hard-earned money at the “visionary entrepreneur.” But let a public servant come up with a way to tackle poverty, deliver healthcare, regulate worker safety, lower our carbon emissions or improve public transit? She’s a wastrel, an enemy of liberty, a socialist. She’d allocate far less of our hard-earned money for better results and greater good, but we’re sold on the idea that taxation is theft; and the only theft we countenance is the covert type. Covert theft plays out as everyday low prices, subsidized by subsistence-level wages for employees; CEO’s paid three hundred times the wages of a secretary, taxpayer-funded mortgage relief. Even the robber barons, once reviled but looking more and more like modern-day saints, donated Carnegie libraries, built whole towns of factory-worker housing, gave out a paternalistic scuttle of coal and a turkey at Christmas, out of the nagging sense that they’d amassed more than was seemly. (Is it socialism when the tax exemption on inherited wealth is increased to eleven million from five point five million, as it was in 2018, in the U.S.? Under these new guidelines, there are currently only two thousand people in the United States who would be liable for estate tax. (Is it socialism when the corporate tax breaks, which we were assured would be invested in higher wages, new products, job creation or lower prices, were used by companies almost exclusively to buy back their own stock, for the benefit of shareholders?) North Americans, we proles without the silver spoons, are not a smart or subtle cohort. We are descended from barn-raisers and smashers of stained glass. Life is hard, and meant to be lived unadorned. We work long hours and crawl into bed early, our minds numbed and distracted by Netflix. We don’t throw our hats in the air at the unveiling of a Henry Moore or cram the doorways of Massey Hall to hear Beethoven’s latest, or celebrate Alice Munro Day; we’re too busy paying obscene rent and being gouged for wireless and paying fees to our banks so they can invest our money and reward us with wooden nickels. We’re just plain folks; culture would prove we’ve got ideas above our station, too much unproductive time on our hands. We are in thrall to charlatans: carnival barkers with cures for baldness and hatchet-wielding temperance gals in gingham dresses breathing hellfire. Everybody hustle! Capitalism for the masses: Your success necessitates my failure. But socialism for the moneyed vulgarians: Scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Dogs in diamond collars when we’ve run out of places on ourselves. ֍ #admissionsgate #USsociety #Huffman #collegescandal #satire
A Case of Dementia in Squirrels
lost: a few nuts randomly buried under the Statue of Fuckery WHATEVER YOU POST IN AN INTERNET FORUM, no matter how bat-shit insane or obviously fueled by malice, becomes instantly and indisputably true, provided you make your case with the absolute conviction of a Supreme Court justice and the fire and brimstone of a born-again Christian preaching to the converted. To test my hypothesis, please spread the rumors described below, being careful to follow the instructions and not attempting anything beyond your current skill set. Go on, you know you want to! Rumor 1 “Hillary is running a child-sex brothel from an apartment on the second floor of the Golden Lemongrass Thai Restaurant, in Pocatello, Idaho, and on weekdays you get two for the price of one! True!” What is it: Standard Hillary rumor Where should I spread it: Facebook is the only way to go. Why: Facebook was never cool and just went downhill from there, giving a Hillary-Facebook profile match of 10/10; Facebook is mainly used by low-income, middle-aged women who find the real news too confusing and who are all related to you, and/or entire developing nations where women are allocated a status just below even-toed ungulates. Delivers more intensity for less effort than standard “Crooked Hillary” models. Difficulty: Level 1 (suitable for beginners) Rumor 2 “Alexandria O-C, that crazy humorless Lesbian socialist c**t,¹ is in cahoots with the Palestinians about plans to pelt the Brooklyn Bridge with balls of exploding falafel filled with broken glass and metal screws, and if you survive that, she’s going to raise your taxes to 90% and take away your cow! All so very true!” What is it: Experimental “Crazy Socialist/Accusatory Anti Semite” combo type (in beta; may not perform as anticipated) Where should I spread it: YouTube or other video-heavy sites that attract teenagers and angry middle-aged white guys because a. there’s something that moves; and b. they have to take a break from beating off to “barely-legal” teen porn at least one day out of four so the swelling can go down. Why: This is uncharted territory. Works on the theory that anyone who demands social justice must have had pre-marital sex, gone dancing or lied about getting straight A’s in college at least once, so there’s bound to be something we can nail her with. Gets you bonus points for reminding us that anyone who dares to question even for one second anything Israel does, or anything done in the name of Zionism, no matter how morally reprehensible, is so beyond the pale they might just as well have put on their souvenir pair of Hitler’s tattered underpants, then shoveled great-grandfather’s ashes out of the incinerator at Auschwitz before using them for fertilizer. Difficulty: Level 4 (advanced). Requires impeccable insinuation and moral outrage techniques, plus the ability to withstand mockery by twenty-somethings, and Twitter pile-ons of grandstanding goyim who’ve never been closer to anything Jewish than that time they bought a boil-in-the-bag serving of Shopsy’s corned beef. ¹ Backgrounder: (Yes, one must consider bringing the “c-word” out of retirement, because the usual styling for a strong female, “bitch”, is currently in the private collection of the Speaker, and besides, “bitch” is not even remotely nasty enough for a wee slip of a thing, not yet thirty years old, who speaks her mind, considers herself equal to a man and dares to talk of revolution. “Bitch” is too light and breezy to convey the impotent rage of the male conservative whose daughter has stayed out all night being a slut when she’d promised to keep her knees together and return home by midnight, full of chaste, dutiful daddy’s-little-girl kisses. The moribund, flatulent old guard is incredulous at the vigor and righteousness and juiciness of the new. A O-C is impervious to taunts, because she doesn’t give a fuck what you think; she has that Latina warmth and affability and superiority; plus the natural moral high ground of the female deployed with the ardor of a saint. If you’re on her side, she’ll be your ever-faithful pal; if you’re not, her eyes will flash like steel and she’ll cut you down with a well-aimed retort, swift and sharp as a switchblade. Tremble, o fathers, at untamed, untameable womanhood—!) Rumor 3 “Nancy Pelosi, actually Nadia Pelosinheimer, filthy rich Jewess, together with her latest lover, George Soros, the Antichrist, and her army of bastard Satan-children, is funding a new caravan of out-of-work Central American soap opera actors who will storm The Wall as part of her Communist-Jewish agenda to slice off every remaining piece of foreskin in California. Vile prepuce, be gone!”² ² (The above should be self-explanatory, except please note that in this one we follow the common practice in that you dislike Jews rather than suddenly wanting to stand up for them because it suits your purpose.) Rumor 4 Have you been getting this down? Have a go at Rumor 4 by yourself. Should be a cinch! “Global warming and climate change are hoaxes perpetrated by the Chinese so they can destroy our economy. True! “They are supported in this by an international cabal of renowned scientists who’ve forged all the data, having forgotten that the Earth’s climate goes in cycles—kind of like your clothes dryer at home with the different settings for linen and synthetics, and we’re just stuck on delicates at the moment. One full cap for a dirty load of true! “Remember how your ancestor from the Holocene period always told you, It’s OK, dude, just take shelter in your cave until the monsoons pass? Well, there you go! That thing! Crack my skull with your caveman club of truth! “Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s my turn to demonstrate my killer blow-job technique on the CEO of Esso.” All of these are facts. Cross my heart and hope to die. Let the world know! Nope. Not facts. Not even factoids. None of that happened. Just random, made-up shit. But true. And why the hell not? The actual truth is so plain-Jane and unadorned, it is as a straight-backed Shaker chair to the curvaceous Louis XIV fauteuil of our fakery. The actual truth admits no duty other than to just be, and it will not be gilded or lilied with your agenda. The actual truth lacks efficiency: it does not rouse the base, deflect blame or target a suitably depressed class as “other.” The actual truth involves getting out of bed and taking a selfie without the Instagram filter that lets you pretend you’re a tiger, or breathing fire, or even Marilyn, even if you’re a guy. The actual truth might not be that pretty. What are the actual truths? The actual truth is that men hate women, hate them so much that every fleeting opportunity for rape not taken is cause for regret; the actual truth is that everyone hates Jews and fags and the transgendered and people with non-white skin and immigrants, the actual truth is that we hate in a dizzying infinite regress of Venn diagrams of who’s the hated and who’s the hater, who hates the haters, and who the hated hate in their turn in whatever hateful hierarchy. That’s actual truth. We didn’t get out of bed this morning and sip our Evian to admit that our bombed and machine-gunned kids, be they in Palestine, Syria or Parkland, are real kids whose flesh shreds to the bone and whose faces melt like sugar as we wage war against them, and we hate them all the more for being so delicate, so trusting and vulnerable; that hurts, doesn’t it? And to that I say: that’s actual truth for ya! A black woman, a Democratic representative in Congress, is told by the Chair, a white man, that her time is up, she must stop talking about gun control and her fears for her children. He makes the demand in the soft, decorous voice one would use to say, “A spot of tea, Priscilla?” The woman explodes in anger. “I will NOT!” she bellows. White men, as always, offer their opinion on Twitter. You would do better to have some decorum. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, Honey. We understand your position, but there’s a time and a place. I read these Tweets, thinking, “This woman has probably endured in her lifetime insults, injustice and indignity that these men would not put up with for ONE SECOND, were it them—and now they want to take away her RAGE as well?” Is there no fucking limit to our shamelessness? We didn’t cast our vote for Trump or Scheer or Harper or Brexit to admit the actual truth: that The Wall can never be built. Honestly, haven’t you ever wondered why? Why the delays, why the faffing around and procrastinating and backtracking and deal-making? It’s not like building a wall costs that much, in a nation that allocates half its discretionary spending to defence while kids starve and their parents shoot up Fentanyl, praying for an overdose; it’s not like it’s technically difficult, in a nation that builds a World Trade Center just so the Deep State can knock it over like a juvenile delinquent knocks a tin can off a fence. (Except that’s just a rumor; the actual truth is that America, read “the West”, is hated by those who’ve endured the West’s greed, insatiable appetite for oil and callous indifference to the misery they’ve inflicted on entire nations, who looked through the windows at the sumptuous banquet and thought, Why not us, too? Why were we not invited? Why is it their oil, not ours? To the West, those people were nothing but inconveniences, pawns to be hoodwinked and manipulated and shifted on the board. And the bitterness and hatred of entire nations spawned fundamentalism, which in turn triggered the horrified awakening: that Western life is the unholy life of the apostate, that Westerners are infidels who deserve to die, and for all I know, they’re right. The actual truth is that you might as well have leveled the World Trade Centre yourselves, so inevitable was the disaster that you call 9/11 and that some call sweet and righteous victory. An infinite regress of haters and the hated…) The Wall can never be built because it was and is and always will be a metaphorical wall, a glorious Fascist symbol, an intangible, enthralling fever dream that has hooked the souls of the lost and angry white overlords who yearn for a Golden Age. The Wall is Heimweh, nostalgia for the Fatherland, the Ur-Amerika of cotton and tobacco, and horses-and-buggies transporting the exquisite parasol’d daughters to the cotillion Good evenin’, Miss Scarlett! while the family niggers drop dead in the fields. The Wall is a Jungian vision of the cosmic hymen that will restore Amerika’s virginity and racial purity, and to attempt to build it would be to awaken us, the sleepwalkers, force us to admit that purity is a chimera, a state that never existed and thus can never be restored. To attempt to build The Wall would force us to admit we are indelibly stained. We long to be pure water again, but we are forever tainted with the blood of those we hate, and to admit that is to admit defeat. God and Satan and all the legion of the fallen angels help us! when we whose vocation is hate must admit defeat. Except the actual truth is that God doesn’t exist. Ours alone will be all the kingdom and the power and the glory for what we’ve wrought, forever and ever. And that is why we, the haters, hate Him most of all. Did you know? Squirrels forget where they buried eighty percent of the nuts they harvest. True. ֍ #911 #Trump #AlexandriaOcasioCortez #climatechangedenial #fakenews #Hillarypizzagate
Tanya Granic Allen wants gay men to know that …
…you make her vomit transcript of speech given at “Our Lady of the Sorrowful Burek” Croatian Catholic Church, Mississauga, Ontario, July 12th, 2018 Good morning and a grim, tightly-wound hello to you. My name is Tanya Granic Allen, and it is truly an honour to be here today at the beautiful Our Lady of the Sorrowful Burek. Thanks to the organizers of this youth conference for the invitation and also of course to The Reverend Father Vldjvicje Zprsczwstic, or as we like to call him, “Mitzi”—and if you’ve never spent New Year’s Eve watching a Croatian Catholic priest in full Barbra Streisand drag sing “People” while twelve naked choirboys in go-go boots sign for the deaf, you probably don’t have the stomach for it! You may have noticed I’m standing way back from the podium because of my baby bump. I’m currently twelve months pregnant with quadruplets, two boys and two girls, and let me emphasize that those are the only two choices available to you, ok? Any hint on the ultrasound that I was giving safe haven to some pre-op tranny female-to-male lesbo pansy boy with a vagina and it would have been coat hangers, a bucket of Palmolive and an extra round of track and field practice. I can assure you of that, because the moment that little freak makes the leap from single cell to personhood is precisely never. Frankly I’d have gotten with child sooner, but hubbie couldn’t find the key to the chastity belt I’ve had on ever since the devil smote me with the curse the day of my “sweet sixteen” party. I know that sounds kinda late, but mom and dad didn’t think I could handle menstruation any younger, and their word was law in our household! Incidentally, and here’s a cute story, just between you, myself and the bedpost, mom and dad actually put the lock on my mouth at first, but my will to pontificate was too strong. What can I say, that’s Tanya to a “t”! My goal today is to make you nostalgic for what our society was like when men were men, women were women, mom and dad were in control and kids did what they were told, at least within earshot. You may also find that you become nostalgic for what life was like before you knew me—and if that thought brings a tear to your eye, I’ll consider this a job well done! First off, and if it isn’t totally obvious, I’m straight, and because there have been some nasty rumors swirling around about my attitude to gay people, or “skin-flute Sally’s” as I call them, I’d like to set the record straight, too. The operative word here is “straight.” Keep a straight face, for example, as you hear me tell you that the accusation by the Liberals—my apologies, I just puked a little into my mouth, but I’ll keep going—and the accusation by the press—that I am somehow against the dignity and human rights of LGBT+ people—is a lie. Trust the Liberal media, and a bunch of Poop-Chute Penelope’s and Rug Rubbers, to get their crotchless panties and deluxe jockstraps in a twist over nothing! Seriously? Master that straight face and you’ll soon be able to keep it going when I tell you that school kids are not learning math because a bunch of Muslim terrorists, Middle Eastern bum bandits and left-wing Islamico-feminazis have commandeered our school curriculum and made our kids obsessed with anal sex. And incidentally, any hint that I’m “Islamophobic” is malarkey as well. I mean, if those gals want to dress up in their voodoo masks and walk around like trick-or-treating piles of laundry with eyes, that’s their friggin’ trip! I celebrate their choice to practise a weird cult religion, at the same time as I thank the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception for making possible our cherished Western values and my freedom to wear something light by Suzy Shier when the weather gets crazy hot. But back to anal sex, always, and the Liberals’ agenda to help young people feel safe and not guilty about their bodies. Part of tradition is that kids should go through what we all went through, and you can bet Kathleen Wynne’s double-headed dildo I’m gonna set you straight on that one, as well. In fact, my goal is that everyone in the world should set themselves absolutely, no-doubt-about-it, pink-for-girls-and-Barbie-dolls, blue-for-boys-and-aching-balls straight. People should be straight, hair should be straight, talking should be straight, kids should be straight, those white lines dividing highways should be straight, a narrow passage connecting two seas or other large areas of water is a strait, homeless people should be in dire straits, right-angled triangles should be made from three straight lines and as for Kathleen Wynne, let me ask you this: does anyone recall two boy penguins marrying before that Marxist muff-muncher swept into power with her evil agenda of thin end of the wedge, anti-family Liberal values like subsidized childcare? Anyone recall that? Well, in case you think you do, let me remind you of something: no, you do not. Back in the good old days it was Groom Penguin driving the Zamboni and Bride Penguin going crazy with Daddy Penguin’s Amex card and stressing about will it be whale-blubber or seal meat for the reception. And that’s the way it should be, because my single most important point about society today is that it’s all about me determining that you’re doing the right things. Now, if you’d like to put on the disposable plastic ponchos I’ve provided, I’m going to seriously get down with some of my signature heavy duty vomiting. I’ll try to retain the bigger chunks in my mouth, but I tend to get over-enthusiastic when I’m “shining with the glory,” so you may be showered with a few sprays of chyme, especially the Holy Sisters in the front. OK, ready? It makes me vomit to think that my beloved homeland, Croatia, that world renowned example of peace, order and traditional values, and only recently free, had ditched its family-friendly customs of learning about sex by getting to third base with a herd of goats and asking grandma about the blood-soaked knee socks, and embraced a throwback, Communist policy of science-based sex-education. Is this why we fought world wars? Oops, here’s the first round coming up now, and you might want to brace yourself for a lot of garlicky fumes. Ready? BRRRRAAACCCCCHGHHH! UUUUUUGGGGH! That’s the thing about vomiting, right? It’s always worse than you think it’s going to be! And my apologies to Holy Mother Agathe, that looks like a new habit you were wearing. I’m devastated. Try a pre-soak, then a hot wash in Tide. You can see how my words have been twisted around and used against me. My spew was not aimed at gay marriage per se, but at the specifics of where the heck do they put the dingleberry when there’s no bleedywunket, who’s the man and who’s the woman, and what’s this eternal cryin’ thing with Judy at Carnegie Hall? I’m sorry but that is so gay, you can understand why they call it “gay” marriage! It is just—so gay?! Right?! … my single most important point about society today is that it’s all about me determining that you’re doing the right things … And my vomity veneration tells you that, as a practicing Catholic, I support the teachings of the Catholic Church, including the traditional Croatian Catholic definition of marriage as between a sexually naïve, inferior female and a man who forces himself on her so they can both fumble around on their wedding night. After a few hours of failed attempts the whole disaster ends up with the tradition of her in tears, and him punching her hard in the mouth, then going out to get shit-faced with his buddies and gangbang someone’s sister. I’m so intent on my kiddies following the old ways that I’m arranging a double marriage for them while they’re still in the womb, and if you’re concerned about the incest thing, put your mind at rest: Our Heavenly Father let Cain and Abel double-team Eve when it was a matter of dire necessity, and I trust he will not turn His big, hairy, Croatian God-back on me, his humble servant. Magnificat! Another accusation is that I want to force my religious views on the people of Ontario using the sex-ed curriculum. That is incorrect. I want to force my religious views on the people of Ontario using every means at my disposal, including the sex-ed curriculum, lies, appeals to your worst nature, xenophobia and misogyny. I support the true separation of church and state, but that separation has to go both ways, which includes my religious liberty taking precedence over facts gleaned from scientists and the rights of children, and particularly includes freedom from state interference, except when it comes to Big Croatian Brother keeping tabs on my uterus. So, yeah. It’s like. Honestly? I’ve been coy so far as to my intent. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t, lifting my Croatian maxi-dress to show a bit of traditional ankle. Put another way, I’ve kept my cards close to my chest, and sorry to have pulled the wool over your eyes. It’s hard to discern Tanya’s “agenda.” I understand. But actually, I do. I totally, absolutely, no-holds-barred, in-yer-face, infinity-plus-one DO want to force my religious views on the people of Ontario. There, I said it. I mean, I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, and I should probably soften the blow, but, hey. Movin.’ ON!! Ontario parents for far too long have had to endure the state’s overreach into their lives under Premier Labia Libtard. I simply hope to restore a more proper balance, where parents have to endure the state’s overreach under me. Me, Tanya Granic Allen, jewel of motherhood and, frankly, kind of a bitch, too! Thankfully, that day may soon come. The days are numbered for Kathleen Wynne and her Licky-Lesbo-Liberals. That day is gonna come when I get into my Ford F-350, round up a bunch of truckers—real men, if the truck symbolism is lost on you—and we’re not going to rest until we rampage over every Liberal, every Lesbo, every Trannie and every Homo from North York to Dundas Square and leave a trail of crushed, dead, innocent bodies in our wake. Literally! But just a metaphor! Kidding! Not kidding! I didn’t mean that! Yes, I did! Not really! I don’t mean it! Yes I do! Nope, just kidding! Not! Literally! No rampage! Rampage! Literally! Just kidding! And while Doug Ford has broken the promise he made to me, that he would crown me Terrorist Tanya, Defender of the Faith, I am not going to despair and I am not going away. Nope, not even if you beg me. Go on, try it. Say, Please, Tanya Granic Allen, won’t you go away? Please, please, please? You’re ignorant and vile and hateful and you stand for everything we abhor about the Progressive Conservatives, and you give Croatian Catholics a bad name! Please roll up into a ball and slip down the nearest storm drain! I can’t hear you! Try it again! Beg, you losers! That’s more like it! And look! I’m still here! Nope, not going. Not gonna happen. Beg more, more! Louder! Nope. Here I am! Louder, louder! C’mon, beg me again! HA! No way! Here to STAY! Never. Going. Oh, god… oh god my lunch… thinking of… anal…oh, sweet Jesus, here it comes… homo sex-ed….sorry guys, stand back.—Holy Mary of the Sorrowful Burek—Brrr… BRRRRR…… BBBBRRRRRAAAAAA…. BRRRRAAAAAAWWWWWCCCCCHHHHHHHH…… !!!! Tanya Granic Allen is the president of Finally U C Tories Are Really Dumb (FUCTARD) and was the official “slip-her-under-the-radar-and-hope-we-get-away-with-it-before-she-opens-her-big-mouth” candidate for the 2018 Ontario PC Leadership. We’re glad they chopped her balls off. Sorry, ovaries. ֍ #sexeducation #homophobia #OntarioConservatives #religiousliberty #TanyaGranicAllen
Serious two-bite brownie habit
it helps me forget how awful we’ve become 1. Awful Sex SUFFERING TODAY FROM Eine-kleine-schokolade-kuchen-schade, which is the bewildered, mushed-together feelings of shame, hopelessness and despair I experience walking home from the corner store, having purchased a pack of “Two-Bite Brownies” for later, mindful delectation. But I am desperately empty now and I eat them en plein air. It’s snowing lightly and I feel the chilly kiss of snowflakes on my hand as I reach into the brownie bag and pop another one into my mouth. I lick my index finger and press it onto the few remaining crumbs, suck them back, like a crack addict mining the shag carpet, unable to accept that his few fleeting moments of pleasure are done. This was supposed to be about pleasure, wasn’t it? Or maybe I just used the brownies to, as it were, bribe my anxiety to get out of the house and go see a movie. I feed myself like a depressed new mother feeds the squalling unwelcome alien who popped out of her womb. What do I have to do to shut him up? I’m tired of being one of the adults, sometimes the only one. I’m tired of peering into the dark and telling myself that everything will be all right. I crave comforting placebos: a hint of childlike sweetness, some undemanding chocolatey depth and a little quotidian complexity. I want a Schubert Impromptu; a Chopin Nocturne; a fugue from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. I want sanity and order and not quite predictability; more like inevitability, but that of a bud coming into flower more than the fruit’s decay. I want to forget, just for a brief, gooey moment, about death and hatred and everything I’ve broken just by being alive and in the same room. I want to forget about sex. Craigslist forgot about sex. Craigslist succumbed to our never-ending panic over sex, in its common-or- garden and educational forms, after its erstwhile competitor, Backpage dot com, got cocky, if you’ll pardon the expression, and rather lackadaisical about a little matter of underage girls. These knock-off Lolitas, who should have been selling nothing fancier than Girl Guide cookies, proffered their sexual services to stoked-up pervs, for cash, with online ads that left nothing to the imagination, then enhanced them with raunchy selfies that screamed, “Over here, Children’s Aid Society!” The Backpage Horror is a classic example of how you can start out with absolutely no good intentions and a disingenuous belief in laissez-faire, drift into awfulness, then say, Oh, how did we get here? and not even bat an eye until five hundred police divisions and ten centuries of jurisprudence come parachuting into your call centre. Because, more than ever, in times of stress and uncertainty, we North Americans cling to the truths that have sustained us through famine, world wars and native genocide: that sex is wrong and sex is sinful; that we endure its distasteful bumps and grinds because, apparently, we are in the grip of a compulsion to produce unnecessary, smaller versions of ourselves with whiny, high-pitched voices and a tendency to spit creamed spinach in our faces. Sex has become awful, as awful as the people practising it. Sex, primarily, is a weapon that men use against women. Men in positions of power and of trust, your sons or husbands or bosses, maintain their bragging rights in the locker room by casually reducing their female colleagues, employees or trophy wives to scalps on their belt. Sex is that smelly, messy, hairy chore that needs to be airbrushed, deodorized and manscaped; Sex produces the involuntary squint, the pursed lips and the face hiding from the cumshot’s spray. I am quite fond of you, but may I be on record as saying: I never signed on for body fluids! Sex is not the naked guy in front of you in the motel room who breaks your heart with his beauty and devours you with his longing while the afternoon sun beats through closed curtains. Sex has left the building, and sex is never now. Sex is just a possibility, the next big thing, the guy or guys, bland and identical as supermarket fruit, a certain number of GPS yards away (maybe even in the next motel room) who are out there waiting to be recruited; so you must log on —sexual encounters without a device no longer exist—line-up ten, then dump nine, exactly what they’re doing to you. The result is that sex is handily avoided, time’s up! and besides, you’ve started to wonder if there’s something suspicious about the way your desktop background keeps changing. Did you do something malicious to my computer? You are awful! Sex is the great defiler of the under-prepared and the irresistible tempter of the over-informed. Sex makes us cry, reflexively, “What about the children?” because sex involves body parts, male lust and female mystery, parental control and teenage curiosity, and someone, somewhere is going to have the awful idea of teaching the names of body parts, how to deal with male lust, how to give consent. But if you name those body parts, they’ll start to pay attention to them, and if they can give consent, what’s stopping them from skipping chemistry class, giving consent, and creating a few explosions of their own? This, I’ll bet you one intact Trojan, is what has driven Ford Nation to roll back the sex ed curriculum in Ontario. It’s homophobia, doing double-duty; pulsating behind the superficial reasonableness of children must be protected; children will be sexualized; children can’t cope with knowing the names of their genitals. What about the children? What, Ford Nation is saying, what about the pervy fingers of gay men who itch to stroke and probe and excite and defile; what about innocence, and making children say “penis?” (There is nothing more taboo than a dick, because there is nothing more contingent, more recalcitrant, more unbiddable. Men must be structural engineers before we’re lovers; our success is one awkward moment away from disaster. We dare not let you see how pathetically, hilariously vulnerable we are.) But wait! Surely gay men are attracted to other men, by definition? It’s pedophiles who are attracted to children (and specifically under the age of thirteen). What gives? Most abused kids know their abuser; when kids are abused it’s usually within the family circle, by heterosexual men; but never mind, give it up, because het is normal; gay men—perverts, queers, nancy boys, poofs, faggots—are abnormal, thus more logical suspects. This one never changes and this one never dies. Conservative minds are simple minds, tirelessly engaged in explaining how stuff works to other simple minds. If it fits on your fender, it’s true. If sex is evil, and only justified by offspring, then gay sex has no justification; if men insist on being in control, then it’s just counter-productive to teach young men and women about consent. Parents labor under the misapprehension that their children belong to them, like their Ford Fiesta or their fifty-six inch smart TV. Our children are chattels, slaves born of our flesh. But children, saith the U.N., are autonomous beings with rights, and one of these is the right to the best education that can be provided. This means children have a right to be educated about their bodies. Young men have the right to be educated about treating women with respect; young women want to confirm that their bodies are their own to control; young people want to know how to consent, and, yes, they fully intend to do so. What about the children? Why do we ask this question when so many acts and omissions prove beyond any doubt that we do not care? Is it a cynical political posture or are we actually so deluded as to think our enraged attempts at control and our denial that every system we’ve built has catastrophically failed are the acts of loving guardians? We don’t care about exposing kids to violence, whether as entertainment or as live-action classroom assassinations. The lucky survivors are ruined souls: white-haired, soot-faced trauma victims, twenty-first century chimney sweeps. We don’t care about children living in poverty because we decided not to fix the worst aspects of capitalism: its focus on profit to the detriment of the public good; its monopolies, corporate and social, concentrating wealth, therefore power, in the hands of a very few. We don’t care about crippling student debt or that we’ve sold out universities, once centres of original thought and incubators of genius, to corporations, to be run like businesses with profit as their sole motive. We don’t care that we’ve fucked the planet, bled it dry, squandered our kids’ inheritance, because we know it will be our kids’ problem, not ours. We’ll be dead when the ice caps melt and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans thunder into shore, engulfing in mere hours what has taken generations and centuries of struggle to achieve; We’ll be dead when democracy is replaced with anarchy, its soundtrack the blasting-off of private space shuttles launching to convey the planet fuckers to another fuckable planet. Our kids will have to deal with that, so long, losers! We don’t care about our kids. All we care about is what our kids will do with their genitals, lest they embarrass us with their sexual virtuosity or raise the ire of whatever fairy-tale ogre whose cult we follow, whose jaws drip blood and bone; the ogre who claims to love us, then shakes us from his sandals like dust. If god made our bodies that experience pleasure, why would god not want us to enjoy that pleasure? Why did we choose agony as our only offering and make suffering our primary achievement? Great big Noah’s Arks of awful. 2. Awful People GAY GURU SHAUN PROULX, venting his righteous anger like an Old Testament prophet but with less sackcloth and more interesting hair, hits the nail on its swollen mushroom head when he excoriates the current crop of fags as douches, albeit unintentional ones. He generously, partially ascribes this to the wiping out of the older generation by AIDS— the men who should have been here to guide them. “The proof is in the pudding!” one of my awful acquaintances is wont to shout; and I bite my tongue so that I may not lose my cool and man-to-mansplain him that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, idiot! (Seriously? As long as he’s happy and not focused on me, I’m good.) The proof of this douche pudding may be the lost generation of guides, or it may be that social media, our beloved burbling cesspit of dreck, has reduced attention spans to nanoseconds and identity to self-serving fakery. Looking for now, now now! Nope, not fast enough! You are all fungible. You will do, old shoe, as well as you and you and you. What was your name, again? Our hook-ups insult us, lie to us, steal from us, gossip about us, go crazy on us. Our hook-ups have never heard of the hostess gift. Our hook-ups are cynical eternal teenagers, wanting an increase in their allowance, and free wi-fi. Our hook-ups don’t like our food or our drinks and are amazed that we’ve read all those books. Our hook-ups have not brought with them the five things without which they cannot function; we must provide them. Our hook-ups are laughing at us even as they exploit us. How would my dead comrades—lutenists, and counter-tenors, and artist-inventors of imaginary tribes, and poets, and long-haired angels and choreographers and lovers—how would they even have begun to train these sad, wet pups? Tabernac ! Marie-Joseph ! Atrocités que vous n’avez jamais imaginé ! And with the older generation gone, gone is technical mastery of sex. My challenge to you, gentlemen: Try to get a decent blowjob from an 18-year-old. What is this? A half-hearted closing of dry, chapped lips around my dick, no idea of how hard to grip, or where, no consistency or sense of drama, no crescendo in the build-up, and now, thirty seconds in and with their reserves of concentration depleted, their eyes begin to wander. Fatal error! Now they are looking for something shiny that will actually amuse them or something bland and starchy they can microwave. They never expect what happens next. Their insulting behavior towards me and my dick guarantees an experience, maybe their first, of sexual rough justice. As they reach for their iPhone, I shove their head down on my cock, holding it tightly with splayed, lube-y fingers; I shove it down hard until they gag, and when I hear them gag I don’t release them. Are you kidding? I watch with pleasure as their faces turn purple and their eyes bulge and water and they start to splutter and flail, and I hold just a little bit longer until they are afraid. Then I let them go; they race back up to the surface like divers whose lungs are bursting, breaking the surface with wild gasps for breath that are close to sobs. We have nothing at all to say to each other. Correction: You have nothing at all to say to me. You’d have to have something to say to me before I would say to you the many things I have to say to you, but won’t. And you don’t. With my compatriots gone, gone, gone to graveyards every one, we have lost the etiquette, the caring, the finesse of sex. Young man walks into my room at the bathhouse. I’m naked, except, of course, for the army boots; don’t pretend you don’t know the look. He walks in and flips my limp dick with one hand. (Hey, I just arrived and haven’t popped a Cialis yet.) “Do you ever get hard?” he says. I’m 63. Do I ever get hard? Is that the question? Oh, I get hard. You’d better believe it. I also have a refractory period that’s measured in weeks. I last came last Tuesday. My erection’s time frame is geological, like Mount Vesuvius. What the hell am I doing in a bathhouse? ֎ #sexeducation #topoli #FORDNATION #homophobia #onpoli
Eating Mae West
a cream-filled bun if I ever saw one I can’t be perpetually silly. Occasionally I have to take a stand. This is not one of those times. I’ve just spent two months in the company of a psychotic fraudster who pretended to pay the rent, but actually didn’t, and his pretty young sidekick, a last-minute addition, who asked to be paid to clean up his room and who likely has Asperger’s. So after a year on court order to pay my rent on time, which I successfully completed, I now have a first-level eviction order. In other words, if I had not had a roommate to help me pay the rent, and simply not paid the rent, I’d be in exactly the same place, except sane. Have a Mae West. Goodness has nothing to do with it. [vimeo 317805667 w=640 h=360] #funnygayvideo #MaeWest #sillyvideo
How Much is a [Gay] Life Worth?
twenty-five years with the possibility of parole Bruce McArthur will be 91 when he is able to apply for parole. CREDIT: Pam Davies/CBC Bruce McArthur, the serial killer who targeted gay men in Toronto from 2010 to 2017 — yes, for eight years — and who evaded capture even after being brought in for questioning as a suspect in 2013, was finally caught, say Toronto Police, “after we got aggressive.” * * all italic text in this post represents a verified fact or an actual quote. Don’t break a nail, will ya? Apparently after eight years of abject failure, our bungling boys in blue were forced to butch it up, skip their “Iron John” retreats, ceramics workshops and macrobiotic cooking classes and try something more radical, more “think-outside-the-box”. “If he’d been black, some scumbag drug user or a homeless person, it would’ve been a different story,” said an officer assigned to the case who preferred to remain anonymous. “We would’ve haunted that muthafucka day and night until he was nailed to the wall! “For example, we advocate for the full sentence in cases of trafficking in meth — life in prison for those assholes! “Can you imagine the untold harm it causes to choose to use a drug in the privacy of your own living room that your betters have unilaterally decided is just wrong, except in cases of substantially the same drug being prescribed by doctors, or that will be legal tomorrow, now that they’ve figured out how to make lots of money from it? But getting back to snuffing out queers, with them we totally throw the book for jay-walking or for looking a little emaciated and not disclosing. Like, one cough in your face and you’ve got the AIDS, no question! Try explaining that to your kids! “We generally save the gentle, non-investigative approach for white guys who tell a good joke and can obviously hold their drink. That leaves us with lots of energy for the important issues, like covering up our incompetence and beating up perps down by Cherry Beach. I mean, you gotta choose your battles, right? “Unfortunately, Mr McArthur took unfair advantage and pulled the wool over our eyes by being white and, we naturally assumed, heterosexual. The landscape gardening thing was a definite red herring, but the huge clay pots just shouted macho. What can I say? We all took the bait. “As far as the anonymous tips go, we naturally figured, bunch of hysterical queens with nothing but animus towards any kind of authority. These guys had no father figure in their lives, so naturally they get antsy when someone with a bulletproof vest tries to tell them what to do. “Also, when we asked Bruce if he’d lured all those faggots into his van, he said ‘no,’ ” the officer continued. “How could we have known that a serial killer would actually lie? It just boggles the mind! It’s like there’s no integrity anymore!” Toronto Police have had a few misses in a the past while, and not just with the gay men who “disappeared,” which as we all know gay men tend to do anyway when they’re feeling a bit sulky or crave a little extra attention. There’s also the case of the girl from North Bay who failed to respond to her mother’s phone calls. “We looked for that kid all over town,” said the rookie assigned to the case, “but I missed the class where they suggested that you should look in the immediate vicinity of where the person was last seen. That was an eye-opener, or in my case, not!” The young lady in question, described in detail by our contact as “a piece of worthless trash who’d thrown away her life to use drugs and offer her sexual favours to any number of guys,” was eventually found by her mother, who, in her desperation, traveled the four hundred miles from North Bay to Toronto to do the search herself. By a sheer stroke of luck, the canny mom went to the girl’s last address, looked to the right, and discovered an adjoining entrance where she found a body, and immediately recognized her daughter, who’d been strangled. “Frankly, we wish the public would not take matters into their own hands. It makes us look like idiots!” our contact stated, clearly put out by this bit of amateur detective work. “And if that mom’s in shock, well, let that be a lesson to her. Leave the heavy lifting to the experts, guys who are able to discover bodies and not get so emotional about it. I mean, isn’t that just like a woman!” McArthur typically lured his victims into his van, tied them up, sometimes used “g” (the date-rape drug) on them, then suffocated them. After some freaky business with a fur coat, he dismembered the men then buried them in various locations, including in giant planters on the properties of his landscaping clients. McArthur cleverly avoided allowing the public to suffer distress from hearing details of the case by pleading “guilty,” thus obviating the need for a trial. Justice John McMahon, at the sentencing, had the following tough words for the perp: “Bruce McArthur, you are an a evil man who clearly deserves another chance. I mean, consider your age. If you didn’t have parole, it’s like — your life would be over! How would I be able to look myself in the face? “Plus, you confessed. Obviously serial killers have gotten a bad rap! I say to the public, is there not some good in everyone? “And there’s a fine line between retribution and vengeance, kind of like the fine line between killing someone because you hate them, and just killing someone for the sheer thrill of doing so. I can’t say that there was any personal animosity, here, just the devil-may-care antics of a landscape gardener who got a bit too enthusiastic with his being annoyed at poofters with, face it, no immediate family to get upset, and mostly brown skin. “It could happen to anyone! “We’ll run your sentences concurrently, so you can wow everyone with your best-selling memoir in twenty-five years’ time. Personally, I can’t wait to make a cup of cocoa with lots of miniature marshmallows, snuggle into my big armchair by the fire and have a good, scary old read!” We attempted to reach Justice — but her voice message said she’s on permanent leave of absence. ֍ #BruceMcArthur #JohnMcMahon #TorontoPolice #Torontoserialkiller
A Brief But Amusing Fobbing-Off
why should I have to do all the heavy lifting? exactly! It’s been a while since I fobbed you off with something that’s not by me so that I can bask in unmerited, reflected glory. Thus, as I continue my phase of white-hot creativity—which is getting expensive, what with daily washing of the perspiration-soaked singlets and the purchase of giant tubs of styling goop so I can wrangle the few remaining wisps of fine, mouse-colored hair that aren’t sprouting from my auricles or nostrils—I take this well-deserved commercial break to share with you a piece of musical satire, a classic, and one of my favorites. Classical pianist is just one of my protean guises, and if I didn’t exactly turn the world upside down with my not-quite-talented-enough talent, music is in my blood, my alveoli and my semi-collapsed internal organs, so, pretty essential to my existence. Anna Russell, who wanted to become a singer but found that people laughed when she opened her mouth, wisely chose to make her almost adequate voice and plummy speaking manner into her minimum viable product. It turned out to be not only viable, but a worldwide sensation and her life’s work. A career, in fact. Let The Guardian explain, in this excerpt from her obit: … it was a disastrous experience as an understudy in a touring production of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana that first showed Russell what could be made of operatic parody. As the tragic heroine, she was supposed to be cast to the floor by the diminutive tenor; not anticipating her to be so heavy, he fell himself, bringing down part of the scenery, and causing such merriment that the performance came to a halt.
The Guardian, 24 Oct 2006; byline: Patrick O’Connor In fact, I’m doing sort of the same thing, just with a few frustrating, aimless decades in between the realization and the act. My Ph.D. in Procrastination, which I achieved Magna Cum Laude, or at least, I will when I get around to emailing my thesis to my advisor, which means I should probably decide on a topic, was a key factor in the success which I’m sure is just around the corner, someday. “For the singer with no voice, but great artistry” If you love classical music, if you hate classical music, or even if you’ve never heard of classical music – there’s something here for you. This excerpt from the late, great Anna Russell’s best known and best album will have you in stitches. Russell skewers the German Lied and the French “art song” to devastating effect, and leaves a sophisticated New York audience of the 1950’s – possibly the last decade of the 20th century when knowledge of classical music was de rigueur for anyone aspiring to be considered educated and well-rounded – with, as they say, not a dry seat in the house. Her German Lied takes the tired trope of “doesn’t German sound funny to English ears” and while not exactly making it less corny, takes it to hysterical new heights with a consonant-bristling climax, somewhere between an orgasm and a sneeze, on the word “Schnecken!!”; her French art song, with an accompaniment on the piano that wanders, like Debussy in the last throes of dementia, through a fog of confused, “Impressionist” harmonies, takes phrase-book French and pastes together a saucy collage from which we can glean that the artist has enjoyed a bit of home cookin’ followed by a bit on the side from the hotel cleaning staff: "Go find the concierge
and politely ask him
to give this tip
to the valet de chambre..." I give Anna 20% on the bill, and keep the change. As Winnie the Pooh once said: buzy backson #annarussell #comedy #funnyvideo #parody