Rants

Lectins: Just in case you thought it was safe to eat something.

Maybe… frosting?


I had a brief acting career, beginning in London 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 Hackney).

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 ever had at a real job.

Highlights of my gigs include 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 film version shot by a Ryerson student 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 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 certain defiance.

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 the slow-simmering sauce 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 probably intended to evoke Sir Galahad and his fellow lusty knights clinking their tankards together, but actually just 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 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. And god knows you might as well smoke three packs of unfiltered Gauloises before your breakfast sides of tomatoes, potatoes, and bacon. Why not just have a plateful of deep-fried tumors garnished with polyps, for christ’s sake!

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 that are sprouting out of that 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 having a freshly squeezed acai berry Shirley Temple 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 so 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.

“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 anytime soon.

“Maybe you could shred Brussels sprouts and put them in a cake,” he says.


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.

Yes. I know.

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?” or even “What is permissible or safe to eat?” The answer is given to us subliminally, in the wisdom passed down from one generation to the next, at tables where, together with our families and companions, we learn traditions around food, perfectly calibrated for the seasons, for our local climate, even for the time of day. This is miraculous.

We just need to remember that, to find that culture, we have to dig back about two generations, when we weren’t afraid, when we could trust food enough to leave it, and ourselves, alone.

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.

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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.

Serious two-bite brownie habit

it helps me forget how awful we’ve become


The sex here is awful—and such small portions!

1. 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! We wanted to make sure you and the vice squad had lots of evidence!”

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? We never noticed before about the fourteen-year-old girl hookers, and anyway, doesn’t everyone do that—? No? I guess we all kinda got used to it!

Are you sure….?

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?

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. Thus, sex is a necessary evil, gay men are a perverse evil, sex education is a Liberal evil and of course child molestation is an unforgivable evil. BINGO! All for one and one for all and evermore shall be so!

Sex is the great defiler of the under-prepared and the irresistible tempter of the over-informed.

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.

Artful arsefulls of awfulness.

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 to be whipped and abused and browbeaten and guilted into doing exactly as we say and believing exactly what we believe: Our alternative facts; the facts that should have been reality if anyone had been paying attention.

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.

It appears that 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 we believe god made the world and saw that it was good, why did we trash it; fill the lakes with shit and strip the trees from the hills and poison the air? 

If he made the birds and beasts and everything that crawls upon the ground, and gave Adam the privilege of naming them, why did we cage them for our vicious entertainment, pen them, miserable and terrified, in lakes of their own waste, slaughter them so we could stuff our expanding bellies until we literally died from greed?

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. BAD SEX

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?

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