A trip to the library

a meditation

   Wellesley Community Centre and St James Town Library, Sherbourne and Wellesley, Toronto.  MJMA, architects

I ’m charging my phone at a study carrel in the local library, part of the Wellesley Community Centre.  I’m lucky to have found a space free—the library is packed, even in the afternoon on this sunny October day. The reading room hums like a hive.

The centre serves St James Town, an enclave of three-pronged high rise apartment buildings from the early 1970’s. These were the bachelor pads of that era, the swingin’ place to live, where you could see the dramatic view from your balcony and swim in the pool on the penthouse floor; where on Saturday night you could dance the frug with some groovy mini-skirted chicks with Sassoon hairstyles and pink-frosted lips.  Now the buildings are a little decrepit, but feisty—like me, another relic of that era—and they house one of the most diverse populations in this most diverse of cities. 

In the colorful, chaotic precincts of St James Town you’ll see mothers and grandmothers in traditional Indian dress, bearded Pakistani men in white pants and tunics, some women in full-length black wearing the niqab (and talking on cellphones); men and women from francophone Africa speaking a seductive demotic French that lilts with an unhurried, more earthy music, walks with a broader, more languid sway of the hips than the French you hear in Paris or Montréal.  And of course, kids to correspond. Kids by the cartload! It’s a family enclave of the world family.

This afternoon many of those kids are at the community centre, playing basketball, or right here, in the library, studying and doing homework and, as always, finding ways to subvert the unspoken law of silence! It’s good to see them, good like graduation pictures and home-cooked dinners and rough-and-tumble fights that collapse into laughter, good like getting to bed early. 

It reminds me that I haven’t been in a library for what feels like a demi-lifetime, and I think the overdue police may still be after me since 1990, which is when I dropped off some books that were a year past their due date at the College Street branch, whose entrance is guarded by two huge statues of mythical Asian beasts.  I walked up to the book drop, which is a bit like a literary coal scuttle, pulled down on the handle and laid my hostages in the metal cradle. Once I’d heard the books thunking and clunking into the basket on the other side and was satisfied that they’d made it home, I scurried off.

I never received a bill for the charges. Maybe the switch-over to the digital age wiped out my shame.

When I was seventeen we lived in a duplex on St Clair Avenue, mid-town, and by walking a few blocks west I would arrive at the charming, one-storey St Clair Music Library, which was set in its own modest garden like a suburban bungalow but with better bones and Doric columns.  From here I borrowed music scores—I was training to be a concert pianist—and, I’m astonished to recall, long-playing records of classical music.  (Remember LPs?)  Thanks to the St Clair Music Library, now an embassy, I first heard the astonishing and almost unplayable (except by Yvonne Loriod, the composer’s wife) “Vingts regards sur l’enfant Jesus” of Olivier Messiaen, and because I’d checked out the piano score as well, I could follow along and untangle every retrograde canon, every twittering bird song, every uncountable raga

Music library. Is there even such a beast, now? I suppose there’s no longer any need for one, now that cultural memory is gone, or perhaps the kids are all listening to Messiaen on Spotify.  

My home town, Whitby, Ontario, had its own Carnegie Library, built by the tycoon who tried as hard as he could to give away his fortune.  He knew that his accident of birth and his financial success meant he was beholden to the community and that a dollar spent for the public good created a great deal more than a dollar’s worth of value.

His wealth was new money, and he was not a member of any nobility, but he still understood noblesse oblige—understood that your success came with obligations, that selfishness and venality were moral dangers, that one’s success was not a solitary achievement.

I remember the thrill of reaching age twelve and being entitled by virtue of being 12—was that the real criterion?  I’ll pretend it is— to take out six books.  What a little budding intellectual I must have looked like, walking home with them!

Carnegie Library, Whitby, Ontario, 1947 (built 1914).  The first library I belonged to and borrowed from.

Carnegie knew that countries, especially vast countries, needed to find some common ground for  its people, so they could speak to each other, understand each other as fellow citizens.  Engaged citizens, most of them middle class, some of them definitely poor, needed to understand civics, absorb the concepts behind democracy and civility; needed to order their ideas logically, and express them coherently.

How else in that era would so many disparate types of citizen in such a vast country become literate or share a common culture except through reading  the classics, reading English literature, verified as wholesome and freely available to all?

The Public Library was a source of civic pride, proof you’d arrived, proof of decency and equality and right aspirations. The achievements of humankind were glorious and inspiring; the reach of the collective mind infinite; and everyone wanted to hitch a ride on the tail of the comet.

Libraries are old-fashioned, in the best way: They recall a time when reading was the prime entertainment for kids — and what a sense of accomplishment it gave me, when I was little, to borrow a book, to think that the library had lent this to me, trusted me, and that I was responsible for it.

How many lessons, how much growing up there is already in just borrowing that book; so much learning about civility and belonging and being entrusted with something of value.

And then sitting with it, sometimes with a parent or sometimes on your own, and finally to make sense of it, to have everything fall into place, to understand how an argument works, and logic, also magic; to take pleasure in the choice of words, to discover that some words are funny and some are serious, or sad, or beautiful; to discover that a sentence can scare you or thrill you or make you laugh, or cry— is there any astonishment in adult life to equal that giant leap forward into independence, that click of understanding?

Libraries are old-fashioned because they recall a time of community and shared values: A time when every person, wherever they were from, and whatever their background, aspired to read and to learn, and it was a cause for shame to be illiterate. To be illiterate was to be shut out.

Reading was how you looked under the hood, deconstructed the engine of your own language — how it worked, what was formal and informal; what you could say in front of Aunt Milly (Ladies’ Home Journal) and how you might want to sound as class valedictorian (Emerson) and what should only be said to the girls and the boys in the locker room (Mailer/ Anaïs Nin). Words meant something, they had lives and personalities and relationships with each other; they had connotation and context. You absorbed the right use of your language.

In the 1950s and 1960s, when I was a child, you read and learned without being sneered at as “elite.” There was no one to call you “elite” because they wanted to read and learn, too.

(“You’ve actually read all of those books?” some people say to me when they see my two modestly-packed IKEA bookcases; they say it as though I’ve done something impressive but slightly distasteful when they weren’t looking, pulled something over on them; and the unspoken question is clearly:  “… and why would you — or anyone — want to?”)

Reading was how you looked under the hood, deconstructed the engine of your own language .

Libraries are a common resource that reminds us of when we still thought without shame in terms of common resources, when our priorities about what is essential included learning and reading; when it wasn’t “socialist” to think that essentials both tangible and intangible must be available for all.  Public libraries were a product of our belief that literature and book-knowledge were riches, and that riches of all kinds, whether books in the library or clean water from the tap, could and should be shared.  

Big glitzy bookstores, the Barnes & Noble’s and their ilk, must believe they have their hearts in something approximating the right place — and true, they’re selling books, not manufacturing nerve gas, which is a start — but they have no obligation to the community, only to their bottom lines.

They’re upscale, not for everyone; they say, “reading is a lifestyle choice, not an essential; it’s a paying proposition for — yes! — the elites; it takes place on private property, for customers, not citizens, so you can’t hang around here too long, and if you don’t like reading, no problem—how about a cashmere scarf or these apple-cinnamon scented candles after you finish your coffee?”

Barnes & Noble might close down one day, it never belonged to us. It’s the book as object that you buy; your special book that’s yours alone (guilty as charged, q.v. my bookcases). Sure, you could spend your money on far worse things, and reading is always good.

I think libraries, though, unlike bookstores, are humble, and humbling and, almost as much as for the books they make available, that is why we need them, especially now.

They put you in your place, that’s to say, your place; tell you you’re a useful part of something bigger than just you;

that you’re a trusted citizen, engaged and aspiring not just for yourself but for that common good without which an individual cannot realize her aspirations; 

they remind you that you’re neither above nor below anyone else. 


Don’t Drop the Democracy

the morning after the U.S. mid-terms is one big macaroni picture

Well, well, well, America. Aren’t we full of surprises. You little freckle-faced rascals!

You’ve done something good. You’ve made a start on redeeming yourself; made a little wobbly-oopsy baby-step towards taking America from a state of total insanity back to the regular, day-to-day state of verging-on-insanity that we all know and love.

Democrats control the House — unprecedented wins for women, women of color, Native, Muslim and LGBT candidates — you’ve been holding out on me, you sly puss! Sincere and heartfelt congratulations.

We won’t, not yet anyway, take on those topics of: Gerrymandering and voter suppression, Republican specialties, and it is a toss-up whether you’d classify these activities as art, for the exquisite finesse in the redrawing of boundaries; or sport, for the breathtaking speed of execution and their brazen exhibitionism.  Either way, any close-call vote is suspect, notably in Georgia, where I understand the person in charge of the election’s integrity is also a candidate.  Conflict of interest much?

The post-mortems are already underway, but as a Canadian I can just take the day off and spend it sighing with relief.  I can still remember — and, youngsters, let me take a second to hook my thumbs behind my suspenders — how my loins shuddered and my flanks trembled from my absolute shock a couple of years ago when, in the wee hours after the election, I heard a crowd of voices outside my apartment on Sherbourne Street, in Toronto — if you’re not familiar with the geography, just think “up there” — then somebody saying something like, “Holy fuck, TRUMP!”, then everyone bursting out laughing.

It was, indeed, holy fuck Trump, and were I to say that you’ve exceeded my expectations by reining him in a little, please note that this is sincere — but also a bit like those desperate compliments you give your friend who’s just made their acting début in the local amateur production of “The Mousetrap,” where they say the line “dinner is served” with the gawdawful stiffness of those who have thought too much about how to say “dinner is served,” then disappear for the rest of the evening.

And you are obliged to sit through the whole damn play because you have to go backstage afterwards and tell them, “Well, gosh, Darlene, I’ll be honest — I never knew you had it in ya!”

So, here’s the deal. You got your common sense back, sort of — though it involved waiting until Trump was literally on the verge of holding a fascist-style parade, I can imagine the armed Boy Scouts in formation and modestly-clad girls performing gymnastics, because healthy women are needed to breed the Amerikanisches volk — and you have partially put a little bit of a check on Republicans run amok —

But—and I have to go here, yes—you just couldn’t elect another ssssshhhhh! black! man! for Governor of Florida, could you? That was way too much to hope for. That’s still just too errrrrr crunchy and difficult to get your heads around. We understand, and don’t forget — baby steps! It’s important not to take on more menschly normal than you can handle at a go. Saving the Free World from Trump is just fine for today.

‘Cause we know how the last black guy worked out, right? I mean, can you just imagine those Klan members’ brains, with those racist neurons and synapses firing back and forth — slave!/POTUS! slave!/POTUS! error! error! error! — until the cognitive dissonance was just too much overheating of the circuits. The greatest cross-burning opp of a lifetime, and whitey’s got mind-frazzle!

And, right on cue, like an army of rejects from a Cronenberg casting call, comes The Awakening. In this riff on The Manchurian Candidate, an entire shadowy doppel-nation of slumbering fascists is stirred into action by the opening words of Obama’s inauguration ceremony. Their eyes take on a remote, permanently glazed appearance as they stock up on ammunition, check the tire pressure, maybe research the End of Days, because what else could this be?

(Your best friend has changed his name to “Biff,” buzzed his hair and joined The League of Pretty White Boys. Next thing you know he’s going skinny dipping in the bayou with his new buds, putting “Gurlz keep out!” signs on his treehouse and getting suspiciously interested in Physical Culture. You can no longer have a meaningful conversation because your values don’t align and besides, it’s really hard to talk when he’s playing “Ein Heldenleben” at full volume…

Democracy is not the default.  Goodness is not the default.  Fairness and empathy and love and justice are not the norm.

… And I know, like any marketer knows, that sequels are a shoo-in because they combine just enough novelty with a big helping of the familiar and predictable. In which case, I think it’ll knock ’em dead in Des Moines, how about you?)

All that ugly racism awakened, yet from Obama: class and grace and decency, eight years of taking the high road . Like, what was that crazy-ass American Dream fucktard-ery all about?

I mean, stop the merry-go-round of normal! I need to take my crazy pills and chase them with a big, hot, foaming, rabid Trumpstein of white supremo!

— so, you’ve made a tiny initial act of reparation for the sinking-in-synch of democracy worldwide that Trump has enabled. You’re like the door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman who throws dirt on the lady’s carpet so he can demonstrate how “nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”  Or you threw a banana peel in front of good government and it slipped and broke its ankle and now it’s finally off the crutches, and where does that leave us?  Right back where we started.

So don’t go all self-congratulatory and amber-waves-of-grain just yet. Keep going, and don’t lose this momentum. Take out your smartphone now and make some movies or even animated GIFs of all of you being happy and jumping around so you have a reference if you forget what momentum means.

Don’t lose momentum. Prove that you’ve learned the lesson:

Democracy is not the default.  Goodness is not the default.  Fairness and empathy and love and justice are not the norm. These things are precious and extraordinary and they have an exquisitely fine-tuned eco-system, an equilibrium that can be destroyed.

Prove that you know: the fight for democracy is never done.  There is no time off.

We will never let you forget that, somehow, you guys  were put in charge of democracy— god only knows why — and then someone yelled, “Chicken ‘n biscuits ‘n Red-Eye Gravy!!! AND FRAHS!!!” and you all just spun around and you lost your grip and you dropped it.

Jeezus Murphy.

Just don’t drop the democracy. OK? Wear rubber gloves if you need a little more traction.

Blue Wave Ish.

Also, get Young People to vote. If they ask what voting is, tell them it’s something easy that they can microwave and eat right out of the box and someone else will wash up after them.

In fact, tell them that voting is all about them and you’ll do it for them, if they’ll just come along. You’ll have their socks pulled on and their laces tied and their noses wiped and them ready to head to the polls faster than they can say, “That’s so, like. Totally woke!”

Also, make sure Bernie doesn’t run again. For anything. Maybe run for coffees, at least that’ll get him out of the house. But in that case, make sure he’s the only one running for coffee, take care that he knows that you know he’s in charge of the coffee, and if he drops the coffee, just pat his little nutty professor head and say there, there and tell him you didn’t really want coffee anyway.

I mean, you dropped the democracy, you’re no one to judge.

Because I would say, work on your universal health care. Work on this one concept, so you can shout those words in, say, a crowded theatre, without someone screaming back “Satanic Socialist Hillary Communism Obama!” and you’ll have taken an important first step. Leave the hygge and the full-frontal free-meatballs-for-all social democratic platform with lingonberry sauce until you’ve got a little more practice under your belt. K?

And please, it’s alright. No, honestly. Don’t apologize about your little mishap with the world’s peace, order and freedom.

Just don’t friggin’ let it happen again.

Civilization, unraveled

Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

Well, it had been at least a week since I’d heard that “prison should not be like a country club.” Luckily, the memes and talking points that most irritate the never-ending hell out of me are never far away, and I was glad to run into this one on Medium, before I spent even one day of my sunset years not puking into a waste basket and rhythmically clenching my fists.

Everyone needs someone to love them, goes some song, somewhere.  And everyone needs someone to look down on and feel better than, which often turns out to be that very someone who loves them.  Nature abhors a throw cushion, preferring instead just a big lump in the sofa that is an adaptation, a “just-good-enough” barely-useful approximation of what we really wanted.

But on the rare occasions when we have the time or inclination to look down on and feel superior to in a more dedicated way, we have criminals.  Criminals are, in one construct, the people who smoked pot before October 17th, 2018, the day on which the Canadian government waved its arms and made smoking pot something normal and legal, and really rather uncool; something you pick up at a government-run outlet.  Naughty but nice. It’s a long way from the LCBO in the sixties, with the clerk handing you a brown paper bag containing the twenty-sixer of whisky, sanctioned but somehow illicit at the same time.

Sometimes criminals are not just a construct, a wave of the wand one way or the other.  Sometimes we break serious rules, break down, inflict. Sometimes we do terrible, unspeakable harm. Or they do. Civilization unravels like American Apparel underwear when we spot the blood on someone else’s hands. Then it’s off to the fit punishment they go, but we do not trust that the punishment will be fit. Some snowflake, somewhere, will throw in a cooking class or a hot shower or an extra helping of if it’s brown, it’s meat.

Civilization unravels like American Apparel underwear when we spot the blood on someone else’s hands. 

We fret that prisoners will get food, shelter, education, coddling, and that they might forget for a moment that they are not in a country club, but in the best hell we can manage.

Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate! (Translation by Google: “Liquor Control Board?  I  haven’t even met her parents!”)

Here’s the thing. When you go to your country club — and I like to picture you driving there in your pink Cadillac with the white upholstery and tail fins, while your SO looks out the opera window, and maybe waves at the crowd — you get to leave again, drive home in your pink Caddy, and lie by the pool eating your TV dinner.

But when you’re being “fitly punished”—

—and we’ll just for the moment accept the premise hat anyone caught up in, for example, the “war on drugs” and put away for life because of mandatory minimum sentencing is getting their just desserts —

Don’t misunderstand me, here.  I’m certainly not saying that prisoners should get dessert! They’re being fitly punished, not being served High Tea with scones and cake at the King Eddie! Some gravel on a plate, after they’ve been for their daily flogging with the cat o’ nine tails, is what I’m thinking, and even that sounds a little bit bleeding-heart-social-justice-warrior-snowflake-libtard-y, IMHO.

Dessert! Please! Any kind of joy or small daily treat or practical help or compassion or recognition of humanity must be stripped from those prisoners, and, personally, I would not give them so much as an unfitly-punishing handful of Smarties out of my hard-earned tax dollars—

—when you’re being fitly punished, you don’t get to go home, sit by your pool, and have your TV dinner.

Because your freedom has been taken away from you.

That is your punishment, and no daily Scrabble tournaments, sleeping on Porthault sheets with the government-issue comfort girls and eating lobster dinners, all on your hard earned tax dollars—no extravagant, five-star country club perquisite can entirely take the sting out of that.

But, let’s be honest. What’s a little freedom? The point is, how much does it hurt? We must make sure to up the ante with the pain scenario and punish those prisoners, right? Because if we can’t look down on prisoners as bad, broken, wilful sub-humans and deserving of our punishment how will we feel better about ourselves?

How will we make sure people know that we’re one of the winners through a sheer accident of birth, and not one of the losers who, operating, you can be sure, with the same balanced upbringing, societal position, economic advantages and psychological health as us, just threw it all away to be ornery old criminals?

Just imagine: They gave up their god-given right to belong to a country club — which, frankly, is the most incomprehensible of all their crimes, for what kind of good, upright, hard-earned tax dollar-paying law-abiding citizen would not exercise that right?

The answer is as inescapable as the sand trap at the 18th hole of the golf course at your country club: Only a loser!

So the point is not to rehabilitate these guys, or to help them get back into society or teach them skills or anger management or give them some education. I mean, if they even deserved that kind of tax dollar bonanza, they could probably have got all those things — at the country club!

A final suggestion or two, just off the top of my head, to really make sure those guys know that they are bad, non-hard-earned tax dollar-paying losers, I’m thinking: slave labor, solitary confinement and maybe even torture.

That’ll get the point across, eh? I mean, show me a country club with torture! 

Well, you know.

If you don’t count that endless wait between the vodka martini and the first course.

The Fake Celebrity Endorsements are IN!

Feedback is always good, especially when obviously contrived and attributed to dead celebrities and live politicians.  And just try figuring out which is which!

From the moment I picked up David’s book until I put it down again I was convulsed with laughter. Next time I intend reading it. No, that is not David’s original joke, it’s mine, and yes, I gave him persimmons. OK? Or maybe he meant “permission,” I get them mixed up. Thanks, now this is no longer funny. NICE WORK.
— Groucho Marx

This book—feels witty! Let’s see, what else? It weighs slightly over a pound and is that like, jam or something on the back cover? Gross!
— Helen Keller

First page to last, a laugh riot. Yeah. And I’m just a dumb blonde.
—Marilyn Monroe

Almost as gorgeously rib-tickling as me! Also, I did not touch David’s butt. At least, I don’t think I did. It’s hard to remember that far back but I probably didn’t, or maybe I did, and anyway, like Hellooooo! TRUDEAU, OK?
—Justin Trudeau

All too obviously written by teeny tiny Liberals posing as heartfelt, edgy, bittersweet-comic diarists.
—Ann Coulter

 Brave. Brave and credible. But in the end just a hoax perpetrated by Democrats, and—oh man! I only wish you could see my goofy facial expression right now as I say ‘Democrats’! Now THAT’S funny!!
—Donald Trump

Ready to take the plunge?  Please consider purchasing the gorgeous new hardcover version, with blue linen, gold spine lettering and glossy full color dust jacket.  Oh yeah, and also, you know.  The actual book.

Currently I’m offering twenty percent off the hardcover, but only until—I’m not saying.  Could be a week.  Could be only until midnight.  Could be forever!

Ha!  That’s what we call in marketing “Creating a sense of urgency”.  Or you could just eat a lot of really really spicy food.

Buy the hardcover because it’s in all honesty a truly gorgeous object you’ll be proud to put on your coffee table and never read; because it’s hard and—get this—it STAYS HARD, that’s right, and when was the last time you encountered that? Exactly!

And because Kraft Dinner is nice for a nostalgic treat, but it’s kind of a drag as the main thing, day after day, with the rest of your life just stretched out before you. Like a patient.  Etherized upon a table.  T.S. Eliot—you’re weird.

Trade Hardcover dust jacket

My dust jacket. Now, honestly. Do you love this dust jacket or what?

Amuse-gueules yourself with these starvation-making tidbits

As I stare at the thirty-fifth iteration of my book (NOW available in hardcover!)

and think, with heavy heart:  “Shit!  I forgot to put in a yacht race and the rape of the dowager’s emeralds!  Time for a re-write!” I realize that you guys are on the slowpainful equivalent of the Paleo diet:  the actual paleo version, where you walk around the boreal forest, skin hanging off your bones because you’re starving to death, then collapse from a stroke at your first glimpse of a moose, or failing that, refuse the blackberries your offspring foraged that morning because “you’re not doing simple carbs until you can rock the cashmere sweater” or you’re self-conscious about having to belt your wolfskin wrap under your muffin-top.

What terrifies me about Paleo believers—and like all ideological diets, this is not just a way to get healthier or lose a few pounds, it is a belief system every bit as tyrannical as those that insist that ninety-nine percent of us are losers in this human-eat-human rat race, or that little babies are born with the stain of sin—is that Paleo dieters are the ultimate blank-brained, culture-free Philistines.

Go on, throw it all at me!  I say Philistine because humans didn’t achieve anything—ANYTHING—until they settled, put up the picket fence and started raising food for the community.  This meant that Thorg could now spend some time actualizing himself with those cave paintings, even though his parents would far rather he went to law school, and Gerpf could indulge her passion for science and come up with the application of heat to food, thus making possible those big styrofoam containers of Pad Thai that everyone loves on Friday Lunar Sacrifice Nights.

You know?  Kind of thing?  Also: Mozart.

The Paleo diet represents all that is wrong with our siloed, culture-free brains in this slide-down-the-razor-blade century, because it does not know of what it speaks; it does not admit or even know that Paleo people were starving to death daily; had no time for anything other than keeping their short, desperate, ignorant, terror-driven lives going for another few hours, do not know how culture happened or that it happened or what it is or why they would want it.

Let’s re-invent ourselves as perfectly vacuum-packed solitudes, with no reference to history or the common good, let’s write history that is totally, lunatically self-serving.  It’s the perfect diet for the Trump Era, Trump being  the guy who, when no one came to his inauguration except his mom and dad, Ivanka and Frankenstein Foreheads numbers one and two, insisted it was, like, the BIGGEST crowd EVERRRRR??!!! and told us there was just something wrong with our eyes.

Eliminate your intelligence and you’ll indeed feel a whole lot lighter.  Maybe it will help you float when the entire state of Florida has become a giant water theme park and we’re spending our remaining lifetimes, where every day is a rainy Sunday, rowing out for picnics on the top of the CN Tower.

On it goes: So Donald Trump gets up at the United Nations, makes a long, rambling incoherent speech filled with stuff he’s just made up on the spur of the moment, and the audience laughs at him.

Just think. It’s like the nightmares you had before big final exams or music competitions or your amateur theatre group production:

“I’ll get up on stage and forget my lines and everyone will laugh at me.”

But that’s just at school! TRUMP GOT LAUGHED AT BY THE UNITED NATIONS! and here’s the thing:   IT DIDN’T BOTHER HIM. He lived through everyone’s worst nightmare, which for us would be pure fantasy— but it was real.

He was laughed at by the U.N., then just went home, had some Trump steaks with ketchup, pinched some Miss World butt and stared into space.

Maybe I’ve been wrong. Maybe there’s no such thing as being too stupid.  And there’s no point calling Trump an idiot when he is merely a reflection of—a symptom of—

You see where I’m going with this, my little freckle-faced Paleo dudes?


To help you further slim down your brain cells, I offer as dessert trolley a selection of images of interest culled during my morning 20 laps around the unleashed Carolina Lake of Pig Poo that is the Innernet.

I was in a bit of a hurry—so I may have gotten the captions mixed up…