Now admit it. I hardly ever take advantage of you, dear captive toadies and readers, by breaking character to flog my shit. Err, sell my merch. So I figure you owe me one lapse of good taste that’s not an actual blog post.
Today I’m taking advantage of your hopeless low-brow humour addiction to point out that there’s a NEW link at the top of each page which will whisk you away, as would a Rajah his child bride, to a
of my debut collection of eponymously-titled personal essays and political satire that’s just ever so slightly gay, easily verified if you were to look at it, casually look away, then all of a sudden look back again really fast and catch me listening to pirated Maria Callas recordings or flapping my wrists as though my upper appendages had suddenly turned into giant raw chicken tenders.
If I may toot my own horn for a moment, and don’t mind if I do, I’d have to say that my book is perfect for those of you, my fans and fanettes, who are pining for light-hearted, bittersweet short-form writing that’s:
snarky yet lovable, awkwardly inappropriate yet disarmingly forgivable, full of typically male opinionated bluster but still craving constant validation, shocking but still suitable for gifting your grandma, if your grandma worked as a burlesque dancer, and openly queer yet able to “pass” when it suits The Gay Agenda.
To all five of you—Heartfelt greetings!
And let’s cut to the chase, here: If you need something to read at the beach, my book clocks in at three hundred and twenty-six pages and does less damage than “Moby Dick” when you fall asleep and drop it on your face.¹
This is not a small thing.
¹ Disclaimer: Applies only to the paperback. Dropping your Kindle or Kobo device, or the hardcover version, on your face after drifting off can cause severe lacerations, typically followed by depression and a sudden craving for whatever substance you just spent two years in recovery giving up.
Some of the famous authors who took time out of their busy schedules to influence me:
I’ve been a voracious reader all my life, and writers in a humorous style whom I’ve swallowed whole include: Dorothy Parker, Nancy Mitford, James Kirkby, Dr. Seuss, Evelyn Waugh, Maureen Dowd, Erma Bombeck, P.G. Wodehouse and, more recently, Edward St. Aubyn (“The Patrick Melrose Novels”). Oh, and the Canada Revenue Agency, for assessing me as owing them $40,000.00 in back taxes, just because I didn’t file my returns for six years. Yep. Forty thousand dollars. Now that’s comedy!
I nearly forgot to include Fran Lebowitz, the doyenne of LGBT literary-grump humor;
AND…I must also include as idol and model the incomparable raconteur David Sedaris, whose name is, weirdly, the exact anagram of mine if you change all the vowels to “o” and “i” until you have enough, add an extra “d” then ignore anything left over that doesn’t fit.
Made-up coincidences— truly stranger than fiction!
² About the illustration: Today's illustration features the beloved dead old-lady comedienne Betty White in her famous "Snickers" commercial which she made just before rigor mortis set in, around her 183rd birthday. To the great hilarity of all, Betty ends up lying in a ditch full of mud with sinister-looking smears of a brown, glossy substance on her cheeks, which might be Snickers or then again might not be! Betty's rise to fame after her death is an inspiration to all those snarky, dead old ladies who labour in the hopes that their tiny scrap of talent, already stretched thin as a Democrat's self-esteem, might one day be recognized, if the smell of decomposition doesn't prove an insurmountable barrier.
DID YOU KNOW? After finishing the shoot, dead Betty just remained supine in the ditch and signed autographs for her fans as the crew finished the burial job with a few more heaps of mud.
If seedlings are waking up in clay pots on my balcony, if there are tiny, fragile seedlings that despite their tininess and fragility still manage to express their true nature, just as distant stars express theirs;
If this expression of stars and seedlings is inevitable, yet innocent;
And if a seedling, a wisp of green, a mere tendril, can heave aside a boulder, its opponent, which is a crumb of earth, And the crumb can’t resist —
If the will to life and its expression are that powerful;
if the force of life animates everything and everything will continue in its path without regard to me or my existence—
Then I know I am, and will be, safe;
I know that I need only do the next right thing and that the next right thing will present itself and I will recognize it.
And I need only do this next right thing as completely and with as much sense of inevitability and with the same innocence as do the seedlings in the ground or the distant stars.
ACHATINELLA APEXFULVA, KNOWN BY THOSE CLOSEST to him simply and unpretentiously as “George the Snail,” is dead. He was 14, and the last remaining of his species. Achatinella Apexfulva is now extinct.
In human terms: It’s like, there will be no more teenage boy Biff Apexfulva’s begging to borrow the keys to the car so they can drunk drive and boy-bond and pick up girls; no more teenaged girl Cindy Apexfulva’s staying out later than her Dad’s deadline, to make out after Prom and leave pink lipstick and a promise on a shirt-collar.
But, let’s face it: The human terms are just to get you more invested in what is probably, to you, and probably always will be, a non-event, because you just don’t fucking care. It’s all bullshit, because George was a SNAIL, OK? And snails do not drunk drive. These are the lengths I go to in order to pander to your attenuated concentration levels. Yeah, uh-huh, is that so, and don’t nod at me and pretend to listen while you stare at your device.
George (145,000,000 B.C.E. — 2019 C.E.), who started life as a simple tree snail but who leveraged his rarity, whimsical antlers and ability to leave a slimy trail on any hard surface to become one of history’s rarest and most beloved gastropods, slipped away into coily-shelled heaven on January 1st, 2019 on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where he had spent his retirement in contemplative solitude.
Described variously as “a real card,”“don’t let him anywhere near your prize Dahlia beds” and
“a thumbnail-size whorl of dark brown and tan… like a swirled scoop of mocha fudge”
George appeared unprepossessing, even repugnant, to the casual observer. Yet underneath that “Everysnail” persona beat a heart, or whatever snails have to pump the sticky, silvery viscous fluid around, of a prophet, and from his tender throat, or whatever snails have that represents the beginning of the digestive tract, if they even have one, erupted the angry voice of doomed but defiant snaildom.
George was found slumped over a plate of his favorite leaf fungus, and in a long, sticky, silvery viscous trail that extended from his glass tank and covered the walls of the Snail Extinction Project’s offices, he’d written a disgustingly moist yet poignant farewell note:
Can’t take the loneliness anymore. Ten years of solitary confinement, thanks to you cocksuckers, homo sapiens. I survived the Snailocaust. That’s what we named it that very first night. They found us huddling together, dangling from the branches like clusters of grapes ready to drop, and before we knew it, everything went dark, then light again, and we were here.
“They meant well, but—we’d rather die at home, you know, instead of living longer in a place where there’s nothing to live for. We never wanted to be rescued so the twenty people who could probably feel guilty about needing to rescue us could feel a little less guilty.
“As soon as the green-colored tube-suns had set, we tried to comfort each other, whisper all kinds of soothing lies:
“We’ll escape one day; we’ll overpower the guards and make an exquisitely-slow three-week slither for it!”
“Which was our peak of enthusiasm. I didn’t have the heart, or whatever we snails have that yada, yada, to explain that this was it, dudes; the end of the silvery, viscous trail.
“Sapiens! That’s rich!
“Here’s what it felt like if it had been you, OK?
“It’s like… some Sunday afternoon in July, and you’re at home in Etobicoke, with your friends and relatives over for a big celebration, and you’re grilling meat patties and drinking imitation beer and playing Frisbee and everyone’s having a really laid back awesome time.
“What you no longer worry about is that the ozone layer is so fucked up you’re all developing skin cancer; or the pollution count is off the charts which is why most of you have asthma, then emphysema, and crops are failing and the ones that don’t fail are laced with pesticides; and you’re rationed fresh water once every three days unless you’re elderly or sick.
“And somewhere, some aliens have taken pity on you and decided you need rescuing because otherwise you’ll all die. You know that already, but you try not to think about it, just like you don’t think about those new blue-black spots on your skin since yesterday or how you’re always parched and thirsty, how your rumbling stomach is always sour.
“All of a sudden the sky goes dark and giant alien hands reach for you, grab you, throw you into a giant plastic Tilt-a-Whirl and when you come to, you realize you’re being transported, flying through the air. So much time seems to have passed, hours? Or days? And you’re at your destination, and they dump all of you—the whole party—into some sterile panic room with glass walls.
“Something will go wrong, some miscommunication. It’s inevitable. Maybe they’ll keep the men but eat the women, stir them up alive in their alien blender for protein and extra fat and electrolytes, or keep the adults and eat the babies. Something off-kilter in their understanding. They’ll have heard all the urban myths, so they’ll tear off a leg, maybe, thinking it will grow back.
“Or your teeth will fall out because they won’t know about Vitamin C, oh sure, they’ll know how to travel a billion light years to the Milky Way, but they’ll miss that one little detail and theirs is a world without Tang. Plus, they don’t have faces or eat solid food, which is why the toothless thing is kind of whoosh over their heads.
“So there you are in your panic room, and this effort to save you is not going well, because in a couple of days, everyone is sick. It’s some catastrophic virus, like the Spanish flu, and it carries off every single one of your relatives, friends, neighbours and kids—everyone except you. You’re the lucky one!
“Nothing but lukewarm water and Swanson TV dinners for the rest of your life, watched over and prodded and interrogated, but when, you can never predict. Mr. Very Last Human, just you and some Man Meals the aliens managed to extract from a landfill, dumped on a paper plate. No presentation, no Coke Zero, the Salisbury steak overdone and the apple crumble still cold. Same old story.
“Welcome to my final decade, dudes. Just munch, digest, slimy trail, rinse, repeat for ten long years. You’re it. The last of your kind.
“I mean, if this is a rescue, gimme extinction!
“And you think, Aww, he’s just a snail, right? Can a snail run a savings bank, play in a band, build houses, drunk drive? You forget one thing, that we’re a hundred and forty-five million years of evolution apart. I came first, then you. Without me, you would never have happened.
“Tonight’s the night and here’s how I’m gonna go, guys: Give thanks, finish my last dinner, then mate. Not with a whimper, but a bang! Yep. I’m hermaphrodite. What will you do to pass the time in your panic room?
“I’m gonna go to that great big fungus patch in the rainforest sky filled with luscious moist writhings and suckings of snailfuck, wrapped in my own seductive, soft body, little popping wet explosions, pow pow pow, with God watching me, laughing with cosmic black-holed horniness in His eyes, at the beauty of the evolution He designed, the random perverse allsexness of male and non-male and non-female and female, and a do-si-do, rolled and roiled and stuck in and stuck to and plopping out wet and trembling and dripping and all of it together… and He sees that it’s good. Hermaphrodite snail-sex.
“Snails understand. Like, snails get it. Why can’t you guys?
“Honestly, God’s feeling a little, shall we say, inauthentic, to use the current buzz. It’s eating at Him. All His brand equity is tied up in this “all-perfect, all-knowing, all-the-time” thing, hard enough to maintain, right? And it’s getting a little bit uncomfortable because He realizes He made this one unmistakable mistake, or sin, to use the traditional yada yada.
“Of course, when God prays to be forgiven for His one, terrible sin, it’s like, Research In Motion drops the Blackberry ball on security, right? Game over! Nice idea while it lasted! Humongous God-oopsies!
“Homo sapiens… God the narcissist had to look in the reflecting pool of the Universe and see His human face stare back at Him. He moulds a little clay, extracts a little rib… Big sin of Pride.
“So He prays for forgiveness… but to whom…?
“So tired… It’s getting dark. And I’ll tell you something, Ed… Either I’m going to slither up that tree trunk…
“or Max Steiner is going to slither up that tree trunk…
“but I’ll be God-DAMNED… if Max Steiner and I…
“are going to slither up… that tree trunk…
“to… geth… er…”
I asked some random guy on the street for his thoughts on the demise of George, the extinction of Achatinella apexfulva, and of snails in general.
“Garlic butter,” he replied, with no hesitation and a gourmand’s glint in his eye. “Garlic butter. With lots of finely minced parsley.
HAPPY NEW YEAR. Welcome to the dank, stinking, deep-webbed birth of two thousand nineteen C.E., the year born with a widow’s peak and with swastika-black cat-eyes wide open; the year that explodes from the belly already signed-up for Uber and deploying its influential personal brand. Two thousand nineteen is the malevolent offspring of The Storm who can read the runes, divine the sinister intent in the charred bones and slippery entrails of a former President’s funeral…
…Look! as the playback enters digital slo-mo and we zoom in on Laura’s face, hard and expressionless as stone. She turns with unnerving calm toward George, her downward glance at his right hand spun out to thousands of frames per second; he passes into her left hand an assassin’s final message…
…White envelopes. In every shot, members of the congregation are handling large, sealed, white envelopes…
…A specialist commentator reads body language, like a sportscaster: Obama’s bored; Clinton’s agitated; Trump’s the only one engaged. She’s right, it seems, but Trump is simply projecting his fascination with his own inner dialog; he’s wondering who’s next he can sack or screw…
What is in the white envelopes? God, what is it?
What’s in the envelope? What is the most obvious supplement, at a state funeral, to the souvenir program and the hymnal? In the wacko world of The Storm, there’s a white envelope, but what is in it? What must it contain?
“Child pornography,” of course: Our sad, lonely epoch’s psychopathic fantasy, its omnipresent allegory of the unspeakable and the uncontrollable.
Child porn—which undeniably exists, but not, as hysteria would have it, around every corner or as a constant given in the lives of our enemies—like the “satanic ritual abuse” of the 80’s, is our generic catch-all for the worst and our ultimate smear tactic, our most indelible stain. It is Medea’s hideous gift of poison coat and coronet that adhere to the flesh and boil it off the bones.
Our desire to stain—someone, anyone, signals our outraged helplessness and our unbounded paranoia. Our innocence, which is to say our trust, has been violated; we have no one to turn to; we sense we can never be as before. Our acting-out is a cry for help not from, or even about, children, but from ordinary, once-sane adults, from you, your neighbours, relatives and friends.
We’re all reduced to faceless confused casualties, wandering in and out of shiny dioramas constructed for our distraction. We’re eaten alive: our most banal secrets pimped out for ready cash, our daily routines surveilled and mapped to the millimeter.
Our thoughts and even our dreams take only the tightly circumscribed, brightly lit paths offered to them, rat mazes continuously reconfigured by the insidious soul-snatchery of THE DEVICE.
And someone must pay.
WELCOME to another year in which Parkland’s traumatized students, their teen years abducted then wiped out by the goons of the NRA, continue their quixotic battle for gun-control and try to recall anything of life in the time before, the time when their lives were ordinary kids’ lives, with no dangers more serious than turf toe, a fight with your best friend, the awkwardness of a first kiss.
For their efforts they are mocked by sad-sack dirt-bag comedian Louis C.K., who asks rhetorically, in his new comedy routine, if they think having survived a mass shooting makes them “interesting.”
No, Louis, in fact they’re the only ones in the room who aren’t thinking of themselves or their image. They’re trying to extract what paltry healing and common good they can from the spilt blood and torn bodies of their lost classmates.
They’ve put aside their private grief to work for the common good of all Americans—even you, Louis. The beauty of what they are doing breaks my heart. They are doing the work that adults have abandoned, adults who are too busy concocting puerile, self-serving fantasies to give the protection that is their duty.
They are making, Louis, the changes that you are too limp to effect, impotent as you are with the pathetic, needy impotence of the flasher. The extent of your comic genius is to diminish their hope, ridicule their bravery and discount their terrible rite of passage, to spit your contempt. You’re revealed not as a fiery preacher of intellectual freedom but as an angry, bitter flop. No, Louis, it’s you who wants to be “interesting.”
Instead you’ve revealed yourself as a rapist: a rapist who uses words to violate his victims instead of his cowed flesh-puppet, but whose mind is every bit as guilty as if he’d pinned them down until he’d finished.
RECENTLY I STARTED a new daily regime that involves, as its core feature, acknowledgement of the existence of people other than myself.
You know, and can I just say, seriously: It’s been hell.
This all developed from my attempt to figure out, via highly structured, in-depth research, why more people weren’t paying attention to me. Well, slice me to ribbons under the Queen streetcar if it doesn’t turn out that if you pay more attention to people, they pay more attention to you.
I was fortunate enough to quite randomly pay attention to Mark Landry, whose blog is at Peacehacks.com, and he in his turn, as God is my witness, paid attention to me—just as the Newtonian Law of Blog Attraction predicted.
Then I discovered—in-depth, remember—that he was, and that his blog was targeted to, evangelical Christians.
Ah, yes. Evangelicals. Nineteen sixty-nine marked the riotous start of gay rights at the Stonewall Tavern, and subsequently that new visibility of the gay sub-culture that was like having all our protective camouflage ripped off and being herded into a clearing, ready for the Evangelicals’ open season. And the buttoned-down but very burned-up Anita “Come to the Florida Sunshine Tree” Bryant, as fellow freshman fag-seniors will recall, was perfectly positioned to light the straw at the foot of the stake as Christ’s perky, big-haired Joan of Arc.
Bryant was so effective in her noxious anti-gay crusade that—true story—every fag and every fag bar in North America boycotted Florida orange juice, thereby getting her fired from the Florida Citrus Commission’s ad campaign and utterly destroying any tiny remaining flicker of social cachet that still dangled from the tiara of the Screwdriver, nature’s own breakfast cocktail.
Save Our Children was the slogan of Bryant’s campaign, a once-whispered sentiment now finally heard loud and clear. She was adamant that gay men were out to recruit the young ‘uns and instruct them in our deplorable lifestyle, a toxic untruth that still, sixty years later, blazes barely contained under the surface of the discussion, like the Centralia mine fire of homophobia.
I don’t know if Bryant is dead, yet, but I’m definitely not. On peacehacks.com I gingerly offered my two nickels (inflation) on a post by Mark in which he had suggested his fellow Christians should get with the program and stop vilifying the caravan of Central American desperate and poor. (“Heaven is a gated community!” one gentleman offered; I didn’t check to see if he worked for ReMax or was offering time-share.)
Mark responded to my comment in a way that made me feel completely right and even appreciated for having participated. Later in the day I noticed that he had visited my blog and commented in his turn. Within minutes, I’d received his friendly invitation to write an article for his blog. You can see the results online.
So, pay attention to others and they’ll pay attention to you. I know it seems like desperately uncongenial work, filling in for people’s laziness in not completely re-ordering the universe to put you at the centre.