George the Snail is Dead…

…and that’s why you feel so empty.


ACHATINELLA APEXFULVA, KNOWN BY THOSE CLOSEST to him simply and unpretentiously as “George the Snail,” is dead. He was 14, and the last remaining of his species. Achatinella Apexfulva is now extinct.

In human terms: It’s like, there will be no more teenage boy Biff Apexfulva’s begging to borrow the keys to the car so they can drunk drive and boy-bond and pick up girls; no more teenaged girl Cindy Apexfulva’s staying out later than her Dad’s deadline, to make out after Prom and leave pink lipstick and a promise on a shirt-collar.

But, let’s face it: The human terms are just to get you more invested in what is probably, to you, and probably always will be, a non-event, because you just don’t fucking care. It’s all bullshit, because George was a SNAIL, OK? And snails do not drunk drive. These are the lengths I go to in order to pander to your attenuated concentration levels. Yeah, uh-huh, is that so, and don’t nod at me and pretend to listen while you stare at your device.

George (145,000,000 B.C.E. — 2019 C.E.), who started life as a simple tree snail but who leveraged his rarity, whimsical antlers and ability to leave a slimy trail on any hard surface to become one of history’s rarest and most beloved gastropods, slipped away into coily-shelled heaven on January 1st, 2019 on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where he had spent his retirement in contemplative solitude.

Described variously as “a real card,” “don’t let him anywhere near your prize Dahlia beds” and

“a thumbnail-size whorl of dark brown and tan… like a swirled scoop of mocha fudge”

—Julia Jacobs, New York Times, January 10th, 2019.

George appeared unprepossessing, even repugnant, to the casual observer. Yet underneath that “Everysnail” persona beat a heart, or whatever snails have to pump the sticky, silvery viscous fluid around, of a prophet, and from his tender throat, or whatever snails have that represents the beginning of the digestive tract, if they even have one, erupted the angry voice of doomed but defiant snaildom.

George was found slumped over a plate of his favorite leaf fungus, and in a long, sticky, silvery viscous trail that extended from his glass tank and covered the walls of the Snail Extinction Project’s offices, he’d written a disgustingly moist yet poignant farewell note:


Can’t take the loneliness anymore. Ten years of solitary confinement, thanks to you cocksuckers, homo sapiens. I survived the Snailocaust. That’s what we named it that very first night. They found us huddling together, dangling from the branches like clusters of grapes ready to drop, and before we knew it, everything went dark, then light again, and we were here.

“They meant well, but—we’d rather die at home, you know, instead of living longer in a place where there’s nothing to live for. We never wanted to be rescued so the twenty people who could probably feel guilty about needing to rescue us could feel a little less guilty.

“As soon as the green-colored tube-suns had set, we tried to comfort each other, whisper all kinds of soothing lies:

“We’ll escape one day; we’ll overpower the guards and make an exquisitely-slow three-week slither for it!”

“Which was our peak of enthusiasm. I didn’t have the heart, or whatever we snails have that yada, yada, to explain that this was it, dudes; the end of the silvery, viscous trail.

“Sapiens! That’s rich!

“Here’s what it felt like if it had been you, OK?

“It’s like… some Sunday afternoon in July, and you’re at home in Etobicoke, with your friends and relatives over for a big celebration, and you’re grilling meat patties and drinking imitation beer and playing Frisbee and everyone’s having a really laid back awesome time.

“What you no longer worry about is that the ozone layer is so fucked up you’re all developing skin cancer; or the pollution count is off the charts which is why most of you have asthma, then emphysema, and crops are failing and the ones that don’t fail are laced with pesticides; and you’re rationed fresh water once every three days unless you’re elderly or sick.

“And somewhere, some aliens have taken pity on you and decided you need rescuing because otherwise you’ll all die. You know that already, but you try not to think about it, just like you don’t think about those new blue-black spots on your skin since yesterday or how you’re always parched and thirsty, how your rumbling stomach is always sour.

“All of a sudden the sky goes dark and giant alien hands reach for you, grab you, throw you into a giant plastic Tilt-a-Whirl and when you come to, you realize you’re being transported, flying through the air. So much time seems to have passed, hours? Or days? And you’re at your destination, and they dump all of you—the whole party—into some sterile panic room with glass walls.

“Something will go wrong, some miscommunication. It’s inevitable. Maybe they’ll keep the men but eat the women, stir them up alive in their alien blender for protein and extra fat and electrolytes, or keep the adults and eat the babies. Something off-kilter in their understanding. They’ll have heard all the urban myths, so they’ll tear off a leg, maybe, thinking it will grow back.

“Or your teeth will fall out because they won’t know about Vitamin C, oh sure, they’ll know how to travel a billion light years to the Milky Way, but they’ll miss that one little detail and theirs is a world without Tang. Plus, they don’t have faces or eat solid food, which is why the toothless thing is kind of whoosh over their heads.

“So there you are in your panic room, and this effort to save you is not going well, because in a couple of days, everyone is sick. It’s some catastrophic virus, like the Spanish flu, and it carries off every single one of your relatives, friends, neighbours and kids—everyone except you. You’re the lucky one!

“Nothing but lukewarm water and Swanson TV dinners for the rest of your life, watched over and prodded and interrogated, but when, you can never predict. Mr. Very Last Human, just you and some Man Meals the aliens managed to extract from a landfill, dumped on a paper plate. No presentation, no Coke Zero, the Salisbury steak overdone and the apple crumble still cold. Same old story.

“Welcome to my final decade, dudes. Just munch, digest, slimy trail, rinse, repeat for ten long years. You’re it. The last of your kind.

I mean, if this is a rescue, gimme extinction!

“And you think, Aww, he’s just a snail, right? Can a snail run a savings bank, play in a band, build houses, drunk drive? You forget one thing, that we’re a hundred and forty-five million years of evolution apart. I came first, then you. Without me, you would never have happened.

“Tonight’s the night and here’s how I’m gonna go, guys: Give thanks, finish my last dinner, then mate. Not with a whimper, but a bang! Yep. I’m hermaphrodite. What will you do to pass the time in your panic room?

‘Cause I’m gonna go to that great big fungus patch in the rainforest sky filled with luscious moist writhings and suckings of snailfuck, wrapped in my own seductive, soft body, little popping wet explosions, pow pow pow, with God watching me, laughing with cosmic black-holed horniness in His eyes, at the beauty of the evolution He designed, the random perverse allsexness of male and non-male and non-female and female, and a do-si-do, rolled and roiled and stuck in and stuck to and plopping out wet and trembling and dripping and all of it together… and He sees that it’s good.  Hermaphrodite snail-sex.

“Snails understand. Like, snails get it. Why can’t you guys?

“Honestly, God’s feeling a little, shall we say, inauthentic, to use the current buzz. It’s eating at Him. All His brand equity is tied up in this “all-perfect, all-knowing, all-the-time” thing, hard enough to maintain, right? And it’s getting a little bit uncomfortable because He realizes He made this one unmistakable mistake, or sin, to use the traditional yada yada.

“Of course, when God prays to be forgiven for His one, terrible sin, it’s like, Research In Motion drops the Blackberry ball on security, right? Game over! Nice idea while it lasted! Giant God-oopsies!

“Homo sapiens… God the narcissist had to look in the reflecting pool of the Universe and see His human face stare back at Him. He moulds a little clay, extracts a little rib… Big sin of Pride.

“So He prays for forgiveness… but to whom…?

“So tired… It’s getting dark. And I’ll tell you something, Mr Louis B Mayer… Either I slither up that tree trunk…

“or Max Steiner slithers up that tree trunk…

“but we’re sure… as hell… not…

“slithering up… that tree trunk…

“to… geth… er…….”


Everything’s going dark…

I asked some random guy on the street for his thoughts on the demise of George, the extinction of Achatinella apexfulva, and of snails in general.

“Garlic butter,” he replied, with no hesitation and a gourmand’s glint in his eye. “Garlic butter. With lots of finely minced parsley.

“And a nice Chardonnay.”

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Trumpeau!

Find the pic that doesn’t belong and win absolutely nothing! A strained relationship in so many photos, I can’t count. Twelve?

In which I make nice to evangelical Christians…

…to Louis C.K., not so much.

HAPPY NEW YEAR. Welcome to the dank, stinking, deep-webbed birth of two thousand nineteen C.E., the year born with a widow’s peak and with swastika-black cat-eyes wide open; the year that explodes from the belly already signed-up for Uber and deploying its influential personal brand. Two thousand nineteen is the malevolent offspring of The Storm who can read the runes, divine the sinister intent in the charred bones and slippery entrails of a former President’s funeral…

…Look! as the playback enters digital slo-mo and we zoom in on Laura’s face, hard and expressionless as stone. She turns with unnerving calm toward George, her downward glance at his right hand spun out to thousands of frames per second; he passes into her left hand an assassin’s final message… 

…White envelopes. In every shot, members of the congregation are handling large, sealed, white envelopes…

…A specialist commentator reads body language, like a sportscaster: Obama’s bored; Clinton’s agitated; Trump’s the only one engaged. She’s right, it seems, but Trump is simply projecting his fascination with his own inner dialog; he’s wondering who’s next he can sack or screw…

What is in the white envelopes? God, what is it?

What’s in the envelope? What is the most obvious supplement, at a state funeral, to the souvenir program and the hymnal? In the wacko world of The Storm, there’s a white envelope, but what is in it? What must it contain?

“Child pornography,” of course: Our sad, lonely epoch’s psychopathic fantasy, its omnipresent allegory of the unspeakable and the uncontrollable.

Child porn—which undeniably exists, but not, as hysteria would have it, around every corner or as a constant given in the lives of our enemies—like the “satanic ritual abuse” of the 80’s, is our generic catch-all for the worst and our ultimate smear tactic, our most indelible stain. It is Medea’s hideous gift of poison coat and coronet that adhere to the flesh and boil it off the bones.

Our desire to stain—someone, anyone, signals our outraged helplessness and our unbounded paranoia. Our innocence, which is to say our trust, has been violated; we have no one to turn to; we sense we can never be as before. Our acting-out is a cry for help not from, or even about, children, but from ordinary, once-sane adults, from you, your neighbours, relatives and friends.

We’re all reduced to faceless confused casualties, wandering in and out of shiny dioramas constructed for our distraction. We’re eaten alive: our most banal secrets pimped out for ready cash, our daily routines surveilled and mapped to the millimeter.

Our thoughts and even our dreams take only the tightly circumscribed, brightly lit paths offered to them, rat mazes continuously reconfigured by the insidious soul-snatchery of THE DEVICE.

And someone must pay.

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WELCOME to another year in which Parkland’s traumatized students, their teen years abducted then wiped out by the goons of the NRA, continue their quixotic battle for gun-control and try to recall anything of life in the time before, the time when their lives were ordinary kids’ lives, with no dangers more serious than turf toe, a fight with your best friend, the awkwardness of a first kiss.

For their efforts they are mocked by sad-sack dirt-bag comedian Louis C.K., who asks rhetorically, in his new comedy routine, if they think having survived a mass shooting makes them “interesting.”

No, Louis, in fact they’re the only ones in the room who aren’t thinking of themselves or their image. They’re trying to extract what paltry healing and common good they can from the spilt blood and torn bodies of their lost classmates.

They’ve put aside their private grief to work for the common good of all Americans—even you, Louis. The beauty of what they are doing breaks my heart. They are doing the work that adults have abandoned, adults who are too busy concocting puerile, self-serving fantasies to give the protection that is their duty.

The teens of Parkland are doing what no teen should ever have had to do.

They are making, Louis, the changes that you are too limp to effect, impotent as you are with the pathetic, needy impotence of the flasher. The extent of your comic genius is to diminish their hope, ridicule their bravery and discount their terrible rite of passage, to spit your contempt. You’re revealed not as a fiery preacher of intellectual freedom but as an angry, bitter flop. No, Louis, it’s you who wants to be “interesting.”

Instead you’ve revealed yourself as a rapist: a rapist who uses words to violate his victims instead of his cowed flesh-puppet, but whose mind is every bit as guilty as if he’d pinned them down until he’d finished.

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RECENTLY I STARTED a new daily regime that involves, as its core feature, acknowledgement of the existence of people other than myself.

You know, and can I just say, seriously: It’s been hell.

This all developed from my attempt to figure out, via highly structured, in-depth research, why more people weren’t paying attention to me. Well, slice me to ribbons under the Queen streetcar if it doesn’t turn out that if you pay more attention to people, they pay more attention to you.

I was fortunate enough to quite randomly pay attention to Mark Landry, whose blog is at Peacehacks.com, and he in his turn, as God is my witness, paid attention to me—just as the Newtonian Law of Blog Attraction predicted.

Then I discovered—in-depth, remember—that he was, and that his blog was targeted to, evangelical Christians.

Ah, yes. Evangelicals. Nineteen sixty-nine marked the riotous start of gay rights at the Stonewall Tavern, and subsequently that new visibility of the gay sub-culture that was like having all our protective camouflage ripped off and being herded into a clearing, ready for the Evangelicals’ open season. And the buttoned-down but very burned-up Anita “Come to the Florida Sunshine Tree” Bryant, as fellow freshman fag-seniors will recall, was perfectly positioned to light the straw at the foot of the stake as Christ’s perky, big-haired Joan of Arc.

Bryant was so effective in her noxious anti-gay crusade that—true story—every fag and every fag bar in North America boycotted Florida orange juice, thereby getting her fired from the Florida Citrus Commission’s ad campaign and utterly destroying any tiny remaining flicker of social cachet that still dangled from the tiara of the Screwdriver, nature’s own breakfast cocktail.

Save Our Children was the slogan of Bryant’s campaign, a once-whispered sentiment now finally heard loud and clear. She was adamant that gay men were out to recruit the young ‘uns and instruct them in our deplorable lifestyle, a toxic untruth that still, sixty years later, blazes barely contained under the surface of the discussion, like the Centralia mine fire of homophobia.

I don’t know if Bryant is dead, yet, but I’m definitely not. On peacehacks.com I gingerly offered my two nickels (inflation) on a post by Mark in which he had suggested his fellow Christians should get with the program and stop vilifying the caravan of Central American desperate and poor. (“Heaven is a gated community!” one gentleman offered; I didn’t check to see if he worked for ReMax or was offering time-share.)

Mark responded to my comment in a way that made me feel completely right and even appreciated for having participated. Later in the day I noticed that he had visited my blog and commented in his turn. Within minutes, I’d received his friendly invitation to write an article for his blog. You can see the results online.

So, pay attention to others and they’ll pay attention to you. I know it seems like desperately uncongenial work, filling in for people’s laziness in not completely re-ordering the universe to put you at the centre.

But it’s all we have.

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» Read my essay on grace, compassion and the power of non-judgment, “Pivot Chords,” on peacehacks.com

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Happy So-Tense-About-Saying-The-Right-Thing-idays

And lo, it came to pass, in this season of ill will and bad faith, that a primary school teacher somewhere not terribly far from Des Moines banned candy canes “because they form the letter “j” and that stands for Jesus.”

I checked it out on Snopes, the site that I decided to trust because they promise to determine what’s true and not true when public figures are the targets of outlandish claims—that Hillary’s been running a brothel above a Thai restaurant, or that George Soros paid for all those Central Americans to come and overthrow Texas, armed with all those feisty brown kids and some tropical fruit. You can imagine the carnage, as they lob their avocado pits at the five thousand troops!

Women, Jews, illegals! Ya can’t live with ’em and ya can’t live without ’em!

Well, Snopes tells me it’s true about the teacher and the candy canes. Just what we libtards needed, to go with our lumps of coal. Thanks, Cindy! That’s what I’m calling her, Cindy, and damn it if I’m playing to stereotypes, here. I just don’t see an Amanda or a Beatrice or a Patricia getting so granular about the whole Xmas thing. This is Cindy material. Cindy’s well-meaning but tends to get too intense when she thinks she understands something.

This is perfect, because now conservatards, latching onto this one person out of three hundred million people, one overly-earnest Cindy who went a little too far and got a little too zealous about the inclusiveness thing, can stick out their chests and say, “crazy dumb-ass freakazoid Liberals, the people who banned CANDY CANES!

You know what I’d like for the holidays? I’d like conservatives to relax, enjoy their power and superiority, and just stop saying “war on Christmas,” because there isn’t one. Christmas is still there, in our faces, always jingling and Kris Kringling, always promising a Silent Night but never delivering.

There is no war on Christmas, for the same reason there is no Straight Pride: Christmas wouldn’t die if we torched every crèche and carpet bombed the Santa Claus parade. Christmas, like Joe Straight, is, like it or not, here to stay.

Liberals being what we are, neither is there war on anything that might actually merit one, poverty or racism or the attempt to disenfranchise everyone who isn’t a CEO or Republican or a relative of Donald; no war on anything, because Liberals and Progressives, believing that we are so obviously right that we shouldn’t have to convince anyone, are perpetually sideswiped by unrelenting conservative zeal and gob-smacked into pouty indignation by every conservative schoolyard taunt. Someone who crumples up from being called “snowflake” is just not angry enough; anyone who’s reacting is not leading.

There is no war on Christmas. Everyone can celebrate Christmas who wants to, no one is being stopped, no one’s cup of eggnog is empty, all the mangers and bowls of wassail are filled to capacity. It’s oh so very fucking much Christmas, everywhere, until at least Tuesday. The Gospels are strangely silent about snow, but whatever. Behold in the East! The Three Wise Kardashians cometh, bearing candy canes! RELAX, conservatives! All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds!

Conservatives love to play the disingenuous, “what little ol’ me?” role. They’re just Simple Folk. They pretend not to know that the Happy Holidays generic greeting is a public stance. It’s the stance of governments, who, apart from theocracies (which we claim to abhor), have no mandate to promote let alone enforce one religion; it’s a recognition that Canadians and Americans are celebrating a veritable steamed pudding of different celebrations. All are citizens; all are equal. So, like a wise mom giving all her kids the same toys, public institutions try to be neutral, inclusive.

Likewise businesses, who never met a cultural practice they couldn’t appropriate, ruin, then monetize, have an interest in welcoming all. Happy Holidays!

But in private, we do and say and wish what we like. Public versus private. This is not a difficult concept.

Happy Holidays is not “Politically Correct”, because there is no such thing. There is just the attempt to speak of, and to, others in a way that acknowledges their humanity, their equality and their dignity. Let’s remember that words can and do hurt. Words have connotations, implications, power.

Let’s remember there are certain things that, for the sake of civility, of society and of living together, just should not be said.

Now get out there and enjoy the winter solstice, as appropriated by the Christian Church; light your apple-cinnamon scented candles, blow all your credit, deck your balls with holly and erect your phallic pagan tree. It’s Christmas Eve. I’m going to listen to some John Rutter, bake some shortbread and smoke a joint. Thank you, Jesus!

I mean, Justin.


January 15, 2019: THE SEQUEL

Please have a good look at this image, which I discovered quite by accident:

This page from the January 3rd, 1940 issue of “Variety” states: “From our family to yours, happy holiday, good cheer all year!” (italics mine).

That’s right. From 1940. Happy holiday. Either the war on Christmas started eighty years ago, or it was all just a bunch of conservative baloney. I know which option I’m voting for.

SlowPainful: Director’s Cut, cha-cha-cha!

Well, it’s good news, here at bittersweet-comic-personal-essay-political-satire-with-a pimento-stuffed-olive-and-a-twist-of-gay-as-a-goose bootcamp.

I’m done. 

Not just done. 

Done, or even DONE.  There’s nothing more. I am squeezed dry, like a lemon wedge squeezed repeatedly by a blue-haired lady over her Dover sole in the dining room of her cheap seaside bed and breakfast, somewhere on the south coast of England, possibly Portsmouth, where the paint is peeling off from the salt wind, the hydrangeas nod their heavy rain-laden heads and the bathroom smells of bay rum and lavender sachets …

… She eats her tea alone, spinning out her final days, fading with the twilight. The crisp yellow spritz of lemon juice, the delicate mauve taste of the sole. Soggy chips and coleslaw with salad creme … Squeeze …

I’ve finished shoe-horning in the yacht race out of Newport with the Bright Young Things; the obligatory interlude with the aliens who teleport the entire Jones clan to their spacecraft for an extended nightmare of  intimate probing; a trope now so eagerly anticipated, it’s practically a family tradition—Little House on the Prairie, with sphincters;

A little musical bon-bon with the young, but still scary, Angela Lansbury that will have your grandad rubbing the stained crotch of his sweatpants against the newel posts in the seventh floor stairwell at “Sunset Lodge,” and, of course, The Scene with the Dinosaurs that finally explains, without the baggage of words, the ultimate meaning of our existence. 

SPOILER:

This involves a Club Pack of ground beef that was left out in the sun too long, made the leap into consciousness and in a surprise coup assumes the office of President of the United States. Giant Patty for Prez! is all the slogan s/he needs to win hearts and minds with shock and awe, but Patty’s Presidency’s a polarizing one, and soon there’s just two camps: The Pity People, who want to tax the middle class until they’re poor, fuck the poor, then give it all to the forty-seven old white guys;  and their sworn, mortal enemies, the Patty People, who want to do all of that exactly the same, but with tear gas.

Who will save the free world from Giant Patty’s reign of hamburger horror? 

“I will save you!” We hear the voice before we see the speaker, but wait—is that—Persistent, Urine-y Old-Guy Smell…?  

Yes, Bernie Sanders has arrived to spoil everything! He’s formed the Purity Party, and really, the choice is simple:  vote for a billionaire racist misogynist who hires his relatives, sucks Russia’s cock, runs his campaign with money laundered through his charity, and flouts the rule of law; vote for Bernie, who wants full frontal social democracy in a country where the idea of health care has NRA members marching in formation and screaming “communism”—or vote for a woman. The single most qualified candidate in living memory, groomed for the role by Obama, but, a woman.

Sorry, BITCH.

Obviously it’s the billionaire racist, hands down, and there’s hardly a millennial who’s figured out how to open the front door and wait for someone to drive them the three blocks to the polling station who doesn’t throw up their hands, slam that door shut again and wail,  “If I can’t have you, I don’t want nobody, baby!  It ain’t WOKE!”

Bernie’s thrown a spanner in the works. Bernie’s shown them how important he is. Bernie’s lost but Bernie’s The Man. Bernie Bernie Berrrrrrrr-nie!  Because at least he saw to it that The Bitch didn’t win.  At least there’s that.

And to a man with Persistent, Urine-y Old Guy Smell, that feels an awful lot like a lose made of win!

So once again it falls to our redoubtable Marines to save the day, half of them in clingy cotton floral-printed sundresses and the other half grabbing the butts of the first half without consent, by deploying their secret weapon:  A firehose with the diameter of the Lincoln tunnel that originates in a genderless washroom in Texas, snakes its way across the half-submerged south eastern states and floods Giant Patty, Washington, D.C., and most of Park Slope, Brooklyn, with chunky tsunamis of Kraft Sandwich Spread; reminding us once more that none of us ever really enjoyed having the word “chunky” associated with food.

Not. At. ALL!!

In the thrilling dénouement, Hillary, in full Carmen Miranda kit,  lobs a giant pineapple at “that leetle Corteth beetch”, knocking the upstart Socialista for a loop, but finally gets her corporatista comeuppance when Robert Mueller, lumpy as a sack of potatoes in a pair of blue tights which I’m not even sure belong to him, catches up to Hillsy as she shakes her maracas on top of Mount Rushmore and smacks her in the cha-cha-cha with a salt-packed anchovy fillet.  Hillsy then falls to her death, which renders her temporarily speechless.

I know, I know. 

It’s been done.

On the other hand:  Buy my book.  It contains absolutely nothing I’ve mentioned here. 

This link will land you smack dab on the e-book page.

Prices are $4.99 CAD for the e-book—that’s Canadian dollars, so, like, our version of free—and 30% off the trade paperback and the gloriously linen’d hardcover for the HOLIDAYS.   Get that?  THE HOLIDAYS.

War on Christmas? Oh, baby—!

Hand me my Kalashnikov, strap on my fuck-me pumps and point me to that manger.

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