satire

If I had any idea who Tucker Carlson was…

I’d probably be ashamed to admit it.



As I was lounging on my balcony this evening, listlessly picking at the plate of shoestring potatoes I’d prepared for myself, and watching the rainy wind plaster shredded pieces of tissue and pages from NOW Magazine covered with pictures of naked women and empty Cheetos bags onto the plexiglass, three passenger pigeons appeared out of nowhere, their feet stuck out in the “landing” position.

What a sight for sore eyes! I’ll tell ya!

Curly, Larry and Moe were carrying little suitcases covered with stickers saying things like “Warszawa” and “Achtung!” and “Italia: Con sprezzatura!” and once they touched down on the balcony railings they began cooing and rustling their feathers and beating on the little suitcases with their beaks, making a noise like distant tom-toms.

I took this to mean, incorrectly as it turns out, that the suitcases were filled with important, time-sensitive information. For me? Fat chance! More likely more letters from Hell, no return address, Can’t wait to see you again, not very long now! So excited!! Sincerely, Mom and Dad!

The wind feels very cold on my naked body and I pour a shot of vodka into the Baccarat tumbler, gulp it down and feel the warmth spread outward from my gut. I relax a little. The tumbler is sturdy, with a pleasing heft, and I hold it up, admiring the crystal’s clarity. It’s like holding the solidified air of new planet.

My feathered phantoms had been attracted no doubt by the moonlight glinting off the bespoke ice cubes from Greenland, hand-cut from the single remaining glacier, that I’d just had flown in on Porter, one seat for each cube. Nobody’s perfect and if I’m going to nourish every last dehydrated cell of my once luscious body with the purest water on earth, I’m sure as little blue buttons gonna fuck spiteful hell out of the environment as I do so. Those ice cubes are suddenly yawning big, as are the giant birds which are now advancing on me, beaks opening and closing, opening and closing…


… which is when I awoke with a little scream,

usually the sign that I’ve drifted off during the first act of “Siegfried,” but a quick assessment of my surroundings assured me I was merely at my desk, face down on my computer keyboard. Business as usual!

I’d nodded off while trying to figure out what a boycott of Tucker Carlson might mean. Do you get that, too? Shall I assume Tucker Carlson is an accounting firm? A small, boutique grocery store?

Serves me right, reading Michael Ondaatje and listening to Beethoven string quartets and talking about “watching TV” like white trash. If I did my homework and kept up with the Joneses I’d be able to respond with a well-placed “Whateverrrrr!???!?” to pop-culture references, instead of having everyone I meet squint at me when I ask a question, then back away while calling an ambulance.

But apparently people take exception to this Tucker Carlson double-named entity, and are very, very serious about wanting advertisers to stop validating said entity by associating their advertising with this manufacturer of power drills or purveyor of lavender-scented eye cream.

A brief phone call to Emma, whom I call my virtual assistant because she’s somewhere else and gives assistance which is virtually useless nine times out of ten, informs me that Tucker Carlson is an unpleasant person somewhere specializing in unpleasant concepts relating to white people being people and other colors of people being less than people. Thanks Emma! Are all Young Girls these days named after nineteenth-century English housemaids? You are totally woke, or at least you will be when I test-call you at four AM!

So, Tucker Carlson is a person, or, more accurately, a pundit! Now, I ask you. Why would a corporation spend endless hours getting their ad agency to perfect their brand creative—then air it during Tucker Carlson?

Why would they do that? Having spent ten long years working in ad agencies, I can tell you why, with confidence.

It’s the numbers, stupid.

I don’t really think you’re stupid. It’s just the trope, OK? Work with me, here.

It’s not that the corporations or the media buyer are clueless, or that they want to sully their good name or toss the work of dozens of talented people down the toilet. But corporations, and by extension their ad agencies, are in the business of selling stuff, mostly stuff that people don’t need, in as large quantities (model 1) or, if moronic luxury is the order of the day, at as high prices (model 2) as possible.

To accomplish this, they need you to believe that their breakfast cereal is not just another mass-produced box of corn kernels puffed up, pressed through rollers and sweetened with more corn, and delivering such low levels of nutrition that most of the actual food value comes from the milk you pour on it.

No, that’s not what their breakfast cereal really is. Their breakfast cereal is really a bowlful of togetherness and familial love and community and the silvery laughter of mischievous yet ultimately still adorable children.

They need you to believe this so completely that they begin to believe it themselves. This, then, is the birth of “the brand.”

No one knows what works, because what worked last time doesn’t seem to work the second time, and though everyone buys the nonsense that marketing is becoming more and more “scientific”, in their hearts they know that marketing and branding are more like dowsing for water or using a ouija board, where the miracle of one coincidence that gives the illusion that you knew what you were doing erases the memory of the three thousand flops that prove you don’t.

It’s not like there’s a “target audience,” a “niche,” so that you might reasonably work out that your perfectly aligned customer does not watch Tucker Carlson, thus sparing you a moral dilemma. Please! Save the cant for your MBA presentation, buckaroo. In my example, but you could make up your own, anyone with a mouth, a couple of teeth and a stomach that can retain a bowl of cereal is a potential customer.

Therefore they need to find the biggest gatherings of the most pairs of eyes, and what has the most pairs of eyes? Huge sports events, tawdry reality shows and low-life self-styled “pundits” spouting the opinions their audience wants to hear, i.e. white supremacy, anti-intellectualism and the undesirability of rapists and murderers from shithole countries, which is the new, of-the-minute locution for what my generation with its quaint, old-school manners called “immigrants.”

It’s not like Acme Cereals Corporation had a board meeting where they said, “Let’s get Korn Krunchies in the six PM slot, next to a video of some brown kids being thrown in jail!” No, there was far less thinking involved. They said, “Get us the most eyeballs on the most screens for our $500,000.” Potato, potato, pronounced differently.

Corporations are not evil, just psychotic. Let’s split the diff and say “amoral.” Eyeballs are eyeballs. How can the most eyeballs get the most Korn Krunchies into the most kids’ stomachs? Tucker Carlson is one answer.

(Now, seriously, the idea that anyone would believe that the puffed corn that leaches nutrients from your body is a bowlful of happiness is clearly preposterous. It would take a brain-vacuum to actually suck the intelligence out of viewers and fill them with despair, so that any positive action became impossible and people simply did what they were told to do, like zombies.

Well, three hundred thwacks on my cracked fontanel if they haven’t invented one — it’s called Tucker Carlson!)

This is why I don’t jump for joy when, say, Toronto-Dominion Bank sponsors Pride Month in Toronto. I’m sure they believe their heart is in it. But I didn’t vote for T-D Bank, and they have no mandate to look after my interests. As long as supporting rights for trans persons provides an off-the-rack halo and a ready supply of new customers to exploit, T-D Bank will be right behind you with the can of Brasso and a rainbow-colored J-Cloth. When the day comes that all of us queers are in jail being tortured, they’ll just move on and sponsor something else.

Individually, employees and art directors and brand managers are humans, sometimes intelligent ones, and they care. Collectively, they’d advertise on the Pol Pot Breakfast Hourif it were the most eyeballs on screens. They have little choice and less will to do otherwise.

That’s why we are always organizing boycotts and waggings of fingers and cluckings of tongues. But corporations aren’t on our or anyone’s side, and it’s silly to believe that they’re suddenly going to develop ethics, or even good taste—which I define as having every right to do something, then not doing it. Go ahead and switch to Wheat Whippies (because, surprise: they own that as well)!

Tucker Carlson, and forgive me for being obvious but it’s what I do best, isn’t a “show.” It’s not Ibsen. It’s just another product, most of whose value comes from the milk you pour on it.

In fact, it could very well be that Korn Krunchies is the show and it’s selling Tucker! You know what, that just occurred to me.

But a half-hearted boycott of a third-rate political commentator will do little to improve the world. Protest does not look like an email, or even a petition; at least, not just a petition.

Protest happens when people have reached tipping point, when you are blind with outrage, when you simply can’t sit at home and pretend everything’s all right, and you are driven to take to the streets. Real protest has a specific gravity and momentum and explodes with constructive anger that has been denied for too long (but not violence). You will know it when you feel it. Protest is not a smack on the wrist written by someone else for an issue you don’t really feel all that pumped about.

There’s only one thing that will work and I dare you to try it out.

Turn off the fucking TV, log out of YouTube, stop watching Tucker Carlson, stop buying Korn Krunchies, get out of the house and help someone worse off than you.

Do this every day. Then gradually, we can come together, all of us, and ask: how can we as a society muster the courage to do this, full time? How can we ensure that no one falls through the cracks, ever again?

Tucker Carlson! You’re funny! People—real thinking, feeling people—don’t watch that kind of shit. Now, honestly. Do I need to tell you this? Let’s try a little harder and then I can be proud to be your friend, and you can be proud you’re mine.

Buddhist teachers sometimes ask a pointed question: What will you do with your precious life? This question administers a jolt of low-grade panic and lights a fire with our to-do list. One more day of my life has just passed by. How did I spend my time? What’s the choice? Watch Tucker? Or help someone?

If you loathe Tucker Carlson’s message about immigrants, don’t focus on his fear mongering and racism. Find a way to advocate for immigrants.Work to improve and fix the immigration system (and don’t confuse those seeking to immigrate with those seeking asylum—these are two very different issues). Be clever. Listen to, or better yet, tell, immigrants’ stories. Counter lies with facts.

Even a boycott of Tucker Carlson by advertisers is more attention that he merits. Tell the station how offensive you find his message.

Then put your attention where it will do the most good: on the poor, the marginalized and the maligned.

💔

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Meritocracy? That’s Rich!

playing fair is one luxury the privileged can’t afford


AS A LOYAL READER OF THIS BLOG, YOU will of course be aware that I’ve previously come out as favoring rubies.

Mmmm, rubies!

Let’s be absolutely sure we’re on the same page, here: I’m talking great, honking, shameless clusters of square-cut rubies with lots and lots of nice, big diamonds.

And I know what you’re thinking:

Total! NO! BRAINER!!

But I have to confess I’m also rather fond of oodles and oodles of cabochon-cut turquoise with blue sapphire and diamond accents mounted in 18K yellow gold, by Van Cleef & Arpels, see left.

Now there’s something a girl could make sacrifices for, once a girl has figured out just exactly what there is left of herself that hasn’t already been sacrificed.

What can I say? Like any other eligible piece of daddy-tail between the age of sixty and death, je suis tellement fatigué. I’m not always up to squeezing me, the toothpaste, back into the crinkled, overworked tube of my Fortuny gown, slapping on forty carats of ruby and diamond cuff, retail value $1,229,540.74, then heading to the corner store flanked by twelve Mounties in full regalia just because I fancy a couple of butter tarts and some commemorative postage.

And, frankly, I need to hold back for my fans’ sake, keep just a hint of mystery:

“Who is that distinguished, solitary gentleman? How young he looks when backlit, at dawn!”

Honestly? I just want to slum it, sometimes. OK, OK, like, busted! You got me!

But hear me out, Murgatroyd McGraw, because being rich is not just all about the gold ingots and heirloom silver and Old Masters and crisp, bundled banknotes piled up to the ceiling in your second-best ballroom with the rococo panelling.

It’s also all about the jaw-dropping savings: At $135,000, this timeless, elegant piece of clumps of polished gravel works out cheaper than rubies, making this the more sensible extravagance. And it leaves me more moolah in my Cayman Islands bank account for calling up Uber Eats and ordering a foie gras BLT and a Cherry Coke teased into significance with a spritz of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin. (My signature cocktail, the “Power Drill,” great for trepanning yourself the morning after a fun yet overly-demanding night out).

Buying oodles of turquoise instead of bushels of rubies, my little sycophants, is true sacrifice. Let me express this in terms you can understand: It’s like buying a can of No-Name tomatoes instead of the ones you really want: A clamshell of grape tomatoes, each one clutching its affidavit of organic provenance, that just flew into town First Class from Mexico. Maybe Van Cleef & Arpels should make jewelry outta those!

How do you think people get as rich and obnoxious as me?

That’s right. The more you spend, the more you save! We get rich by driving our petro-swilling SUV right through the plate-glass windows of your sad little local hardware store, leaving behind the crushed bodies of Fred Helply, the rosy-cheeked proprietor, and his cheery staff, and right up to the loading bay of Walmart, where we pick up bottled tap water by the pallet, gallons of Dijon mustard, two thousand rolls of quilted toilet tissue.

And we get obnoxious by tearing a strip off the radicalized environmentalists and panda-fuckers who think that’s wasteful: “Two thousand year-old trees? Try wiping your ass with a giant sequoia, then give us a call!”

Also, we rich people get rich primarily by inheriting our wealth.

In other words, we get and stay rich through the sheer randomness of the birth lottery, which determines whether we’re lying in a Blue Almonds baby basket on a sand dune in East Hampton, tiny mouths clamped onto a silver spoon first used by Queen Anne, or lying on a sand dune in Sudan, crawling with flies, arms and legs like matchsticks, and bellies swollen from imminent death from starvation.

This is problematic. We’d prefer to believe we’re in East Hampton not through sheer randomness but because—well, because of all that we’ve achieved.

Like being born in East Hampton and inheriting our wealth.

Once we’ve taken care of our patrician roots, we can relax, even more than we are already! We multiply and preserve our wealth through economies of scale (which the poor can’t access because their cars have been repossessed, leaving them surviving on canned creamed corn and jujubes from the local bodega); and by pinching those pennies so hard they squeal louder than Ann Coulter in tit clamps.

Speaking as the sissy-boy who shared a chambre communicante plus bidet with Ann while we were both Broadway hopefuls, making rounds all afternoon, eatin’ in a greasy spoon to save on our dough-oh—and yes, Sondheim gave me permission—I can assure you those squeals are a decibel or two hundred off the charts.

Ann! I told you! Never spramp your bleedywunquet with hot water—you’ll come up like a Shoppers Drug Mart hemorrhoid cushion! My flushing the toilet at just the wrong moment thereby appropriating all the cold had nothing to do with it!

As I was saying:

Thriftiness is a virtue, especially when we’re asked to pay for some homeless person’s heart bypass or motel housing, instead of setting up another trust fund. This is when we say, “Funds are running a bit low, sorry, and charity begins at home!” When a stagnant economy forces us to live within our means, give me stinking rich any day!

Extravagant, money-leaking poor people soon find the alternative, parasitic lifestyle that seemed so alluring when they read “Oliver Twist” is shockingly expensive. You’ve got no choice but to live in some trailer park where the landlord charges you usurious interest rates on your overdue rent, and you can’t even threaten shopkeepers with taking your business elsewhere, because there’s only one shop within walking distance, therefore no elsewhere.

Why someone would choose to live like that, with not a single elsewhere to relieve the monotony—well, it just boggles my mind.

It’s verging on—somebody has to say it, and here goes Mr. Straight-Talkin’ Unpopular—irresponsible.


The week drew to a close, as I lounged in my bower of white Vanda orchids, with the revelation that rich people—TV stars, and food processing magnates and jewelry designers and more TV stars and dentists and even superstar lawyers (!)— had botched their bribery of posh private colleges. Instead of sticking with the traditional signing of a million-dollar cheque for a new library and presenting it to the bursar while the cameras flashed and hands were shaken and, in an examination hall nearby, little Ziggy struggled with his entrance essay—then waiting until someone on the Board of Directors saw the check, and Ziggy’s essay, and put two and two together—some genius decided to change the M.O.

Suddenly it was skulduggery and cryptic emails and entrance exams taken three times in two different states, images with their kids’ heads Photoshopped onto the bodies of volleyball players—and, I like to imagine, two A.M. trysts in the quadrangle.

Money is the best merit money can buy

Our ever-intrepid parents of the privileged tiptoed across ancient lawns under pitch black, moonless skies until someone hissed, “Hey, over here!”—which so distracted mom and dad that their Ferragamo shoes got stuck in the roots of a three-hundred year old oak tree, and they fell, faces and cheque books first, into the arms of an athletics coach who just happened to be passing by.

Happy coincidence!

And if you can believe it, thanks to the appalling negligence of the groundskeepers, this happened fifty times! You’d think they’d have at least devised a warning sign— perhaps a silhouette of Barbara Hutton tripping over some tree roots, with maybe a lightning bolt pointing at her feet to indicate something painful, then a great, big X through everything to make it clear that this was not a desirable outcome. You’d think, at least!

The revelation that shameless, entitled rich people had bought their kids advantages they didn’t in any way deserve, just more blatantly than last week, was barely news, and certainly not “the end of meritocracy!”

Calm down! This is no end to meritocracy. It’s just another pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Oz has spoken! type of socially awkward event where we’re all in cahoots, but have to pretend we’re not, like when Granny Rockefeller farts in church, or when Egbert uses the crème brulée spoon for the fish course. One of those moments when we admit there’s a big charade going on, look at each other, laugh ruefully, oh, that Egbert! He’s just incorrigible! then go right on charading.

There is a kind of meritocracy at work, just not the overly-literal, humorless, taking-itself-seriously meritocracy that insists on, well, merit. What’s that po-faced fucktardery all about? Think Kardashians, Hiltons, Trumps, gold medallists in the Olympics of Vulgar, oligarchs of the moronic moneyed.

(Or think Koch brothers, DeVos, the Republican party and the Progressive Conservatives at prayer: Sleazy deals and dark Webs; Deep States and French-kissing Godfathers; dissident journalists dismembered in embassies. Whether that’s unspeakable horror or all in a day’s work depends on your job description.)

Merit has always been required, but the trick is to define merit so that it’s in plentiful supply and available to our de facto kings and queens. WASP lineage? Merit will be an IQ test, to keep out Jews. Ineffective? Jews turned out to be annoyingly smart, and SAT’s were born.

The privileged class, rather than staking its claim based on true merit—skill, intelligence, integrity—even once, has cleverly devised barriers that screen out whatever they don’t have, leaving them with one attribute they could all agree on. Money is the best merit money can buy, and the American crown princes, those scions of food packaging empires and hedge fund dynasties, deserve nothing less.

Our quasi-royalty of the republic don’t need to be interesting, trustworthy, ethical or talented, or even know how to pronounce noblesse oblige. Their louder-than-a-Lily-Pulitzer-pantsuit message is: If we can get dosh, anybody can. All you need to do is stoop low enough, preferably while taking a selfie for Instagram.


Someone invents an electronic toy that no one needs, until the marketers and influencers tell us we do—think Apple Watch and thousand-dollar iPhones; gigantic “Smart” TVs that hijack our living rooms; robot sidekicks that might delight an unsophisticated three-year-old; Bluetooth headsets that turn their wearers into obtuse, self-styled celebrities broadcasting their delusions of grandeur at our backs—and we’re lobbing fistfuls of our hard-earned money at the “visionary entrepreneur.”

But let a public servant come up with a way to tackle poverty, deliver healthcare, regulate worker safety, lower our carbon emissions or improve public transit? She’s a wastrel, an enemy of liberty, a socialist.

She’d allocate far less of our hard-earned money for better results and greater good, but we’re sold on the idea that taxation is theft; and the only theft we countenance is the covert type. Covert theft plays out as everyday low prices, subsidized by subsistence-level wages for employees; CEO’s paid three hundred times the wages of a secretary, taxpayer-funded mortgage relief.

Even the robber barons, once reviled but looking more and more like modern-day saints, donated Carnegie libraries, built whole towns of factory-worker housing, gave out a paternalistic scuttle of coal and a turkey at Christmas, out of the nagging sense that they’d amassed more than was seemly.

(Is it socialism when the tax exemption on inherited wealth is increased to eleven million from five point five million, as it was in 2018, in the U.S.? Under these new guidelines, there are currently only two thousand people in the United States who would be liable for estate tax.

(Is it socialism when the corporate tax breaks, which we were assured would be invested in higher wages, new products, job creation or lower prices, were used by companies almost exclusively to buy back their own stock, for the benefit of shareholders?)

North Americans, we proles without the silver spoons, are not a smart or subtle cohort. We are descended from barn-raisers and smashers of stained glass. Life is hard, and meant to be lived unadorned. We work long hours and crawl into bed early, our minds numbed and distracted by Netflix. We don’t throw our hats in the air at the unveiling of a Henry Moore or cram the doorways of Massey Hall to hear Beethoven’s latest, or celebrate Alice Munro Day; we’re too busy paying obscene rent and being gouged for wireless and paying fees to our banks so they can invest our money and reward us with wooden nickels.

We’re just plain folks; culture would prove we’ve got ideas above our station, too much unproductive time on our hands.

We are in thrall to charlatans: carnival barkers with cures for baldness and hatchet-wielding temperance gals in gingham dresses breathing hellfire. Everybody hustle!

Capitalism for the masses: Your success necessitates my failure.

But socialism for the moneyed vulgarians: Scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

Dogs in diamond collars when we’ve run out of places on ourselves.

֍

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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