Thursday, September 29, 2011

This Blog Sucks

Why are you here? I haven't updated this site in SIX FUCKING MONTHS. I just started a Tumblr though. Maybe you'd like that? Read more!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why Jermaine Hall of Vibe Magazine Sucks

Here's a post I did for Motherboard, a fine site about technology and stuff. The gist of it is that Jermaine Hall, the editor of Vibe sued a website because someone called him an uncle Tom. C'mon Jermaine, it's the internet! We're supposed to say incredibly fucked-up shit on here! Read more!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sarah Palin! Sarah Palin! Why Talking About Sarah Palin Sucks

One of my favorite journalists over the past few months has been Abe Sauer, who writes mainly for the Awl, a site I can’t recommend enough. I guess you could call him a blogger, since he writes for a “blog,” but he’s an old fashioned muckraker who really works his ass off finding out things that ordinary folk should know but don’t. Two months ago he published a revealing account of how US tax dollars are unconstitutionally used to support the proselytizing of Christian groups in Haiti, and more recently he’s been reporting from the union trenches in Wisconsin, documenting specific instances of Republican politicians straight up lying to their constituents and also spelling out connections between the now-ubiquitous Koch brothers, the Wisconsin Tea Party, and a new wave of anti-union, anti-government Republican candidates for office (who are often trained by organizations that claim to be “non-partisan”). Every time I read one of Sauer’s pieces I feel better educated about a topic, and though he clearly has what might be attacked as a “liberal agenda,” his opinions are clearly backed up by facts and good reporting.

His last article was a typically incisive, meticulously researched piece about Sarah Palin’s hunting and fishing license history. Wait, what the fuck? Yes, a precisely documented and hyperlinked post that disproved one of the many images that Palin has been working to develop for months: namely, that she’s an outdoorsy woman, bespectacled Mark Trail with tits who like Ozzy would have no trouble biting the head of a live animal off onstage. There’s a lot of information—again, as usual for Sauer—in the article, but the central point is that Palin doesn’t have the licensing history for someone who claims to have been a “lifelong hunter” and a frequent worker on her husband’s commercial fishing boat. As Sauer sums up:

“She certainly has not wholly concocted some fairy tale about her outdoorsmanship. But what Palin's licenses do seem to paint is a picture of a candidate who has used a few experiences to justify an image makeover that appealed to a political demographic.”

Exposing a past that a candidate for office has whitewashed or touched up in the service of ambition is an old and honorable journalistic tradition. The problem is, wait, say it with me now:


I mean, she has yet to announce her candidacy for president, although there’s widespread speculation that she will run after visiting India and Israel on a trip that only two kinds of people make: presidential hopefuls and “spiritual” 18-year-olds who have deferred their admission to Columbia.

More importantly, she is a fucking terrible candidate. Not quite Rick “Frothy Mix” Santorum-levels of terrible, but probably unelectable. Her negatives country-wide are through the roof, and even Republicans have begun to turn on her, perhaps deciding that nominating a reality-TV show star who quit the only statewide office she ever held might not be all that responsible. I imagine Obama is about as worried about Palin as Palin is worried about global warming. At this point, she isn’t even a frontrunner. There’s a small group of people who will like her up until and including the moment it is revealed that she and Todd enjoy a vigorous night of pegging every now and then, but everyone else either makes fun of her or ignores her—she’s like the cheerleader who is the most popular girl in school but only genuinely liked by the other jocks, a fairly sexist analogy that more or less stands up.

The people who like her will still like her after reading Sauer’s evidence that she shades the truth about her outdoorsyness; more to the point they won’t even read it, because it’s on a fairly liberal blog, and even if it was in the New York Times, Palinites have acquired the habit of reading only the publications that agree with them, or else not reading much at all. No matter how accurate, attacks on Palin at this point are pointless. She’s a human-shaped target covered in concentric circles of lipstick, and she’s a legendary courter of controversy. I can just hear her response to the Sauer piece in my head:

“So, y’know, some New York liberal Jew (she doesn’t say Jew, but we all know what “New York liberal” means, don’t we?) has written something on the in-ter-net, on a site called The All” (rolls eyes sarcastically like she’s having a seizure) “this liberal fella named Abe, he says that I’m a bad person because I didn’t get all my hunting permits in order every single year of my life!” (Makes “Whatta-ya-gonna-do” shoulder shrug.) “He thinks that because I don’t always go through all the beaurracratic (sic) red tape and because I have more important things to think about than remembering what years I got what pieces of government-issued paper—things like, I dunno, raising a family!” (you can’t hear it, but she just called Sauer childless, implying he was homosexual) “Now, what people like Sauer don’t realize…”

Etc. Etc. Palin thrives on attacks. She’s like the energy form of the Marvel Comics villain Onslaught, who was immune to all of the superheroes’ attacks because he lacked material form. Palin is similarly immune to any hit piece because she lacks substance. Attacking her garners page views, but doesn’t serve a larger point.

I’m not out to criticize Sauer in particular—journalists have been fairly challenging and reporting on Palin’s bizarre behavior and half-truths and willful ignorance ever since she appeared. But in the long run, attacking someone who will soon be a marginal political figure at best serves no purpose. Sauer has talents that could be better spent elsewhere, telling us things that we need to know, not that Palin lies about herself when she’s in front of a camera.

Update: Abe Sauer emailed me with an explanation that answered my question, "Why write about Palin now?"

After I did the piece on her inabilities hunting on display in Dec., I started filing FOIA requests for licenses. But, it's Alaska, and it's complicated this took a while to get the right request to the right person and then for them to fulfill it. (And I got sidetracked with Haiti in between). By the time it was all ready to go, a couple months had passed.

This information is now out there for anyone to use in the future and reference.

I know that blogging is fast and happens at breakneck speed, but sometimes information takes time to surface. Honestly, this seems so obvious that if some journalist at one of the hundreds of papers that have written thousands of articles about Palin in the last couple years would have done it, I wouldn't have had to at such a late date in her cycle of relevance.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Most Worthless Thing on the Internet: Sexed-up Trend Piece Edition

Let’s say you’re a writer for a respected (well, pretty much) New York City publication. It’s your job to write things about New York, which is great, because everyone knows what people do in New York is important, especially if they are “creatives,” especially if they have money, and especially if they live in Manhattan. They are on the cutting edge of culture! What is that edge cutting? Why? What drugs are the young people doing? What music are they listening to? What cuisines are they consuming? These questions must be answered and it is your job to do it.

One way to do it is you could just get loaded with a bunch of trust fund babies, look around the room, and write about whatever you see.

That seems to be what Nate Freeman of the New York Observer did in what will no doubt will go down in infamy as another entry in that already-infamous genre, “The NYC Trend Piece.” Trend pieces, for the blissfully uninitiated, are articles that describe something that a supposedly broad group of people (usually rich people) are doing, but do so without any numbers at all. “Trends” are always described using anecdotal evidence, partly because statistics for trends are hard to come by, and partly because trend pieces are often bullshit that gin-soaked writers make up in the face of deadlines and demanding editors.

Here’s what, in journo-speak, we call the “nut graph” of Freeman's piece:

Young New Yorkers no longer care about having sex. It’s not the endgame, nor even the animating force of social interaction. Men and women still get dressed up, but not for the purpose of taking off their clothes in another’s company. What used to signify desire or the desire to be desired now boils down to narcissism. How will I look on Patrick McMullan tomorrow? Or just on Facebook? The Observer spent a few weeks at parties and gatherings fraught with abstinence but slack of any sexual tension, and we heard a repeated sentiment, often delivered with uncharacteristic fervor: “We are a self-obsessed generation.”

We might ask, for starters, what the hell? Since when does “spending a few weeks at parties” count as reporting? (Since we died and went to reporter heaven, I guess.) And how do you know they were “slack of any sexual tension”? No one was making out in front of you, or getting erections, or quietly taking off their panties in the bathroom? And what is “Patrick McMullan”? I’m a 24-year-old working in the media, and I have no idea what that is. Oh, Google reveals it’s a party photography company. Well, maybe people don’t try to dry-hump that much at the kind of fancy party with professional photographers that the Observer apparently went to. To put it succinctly: you guys are going to the wrong parties, apparently.

Elsewhere, the writer recalls a coke-fueled party that lasted until dawn, full of “day laborers in film, public relations, media, fashion”—get it? “Day laborers?” Because ironically, these people do not do hard labor and get paid a lot!—that disappointingly did live up to the writer’s expectation that “one should choose a member of the opposite sex and set off for his or her apartment, to sleep together.” Damn, I guess Nate Freeman really wanted these hot 20-somethings to bang. Maybe they were tired after a long night of cocaine.

The thesis that young New Yorkers like me don’t care about sex because online social networks, er, make social interactions awkward later (or something?) is backed up by a few quotes from people who are experts because they, themselves, are in their 20s and in New York. Those quoted seem to be having a tough time with their sex lives, and I can empathize to a degree: If you and your potential mates work long hours, it’s tough to schedule a night of fucking in. And maybe it’s awkward for some people to have sex with people who later appear in your Facebook feed—but c’mon, that’s a fucking stupid obstacle to stand in the way of a good orgasm.

Then, as is usual in the trend article genre, there are some people who are bucking the trend. Is this bucking the trend it’s own trend, or just a sub-trend of the original trend? Whatever--in this case, Freeman talks to a couple teenaged actors from Skins and concludes, “younger [more sexual] kids are poised to take their places.” Is that creepy to say? Maybe! Anyway, the kids who aren’t old enough to drink are totally DTF, and amusingly, they have no idea what the Observer is talking about, responding to questions about how undersexed New York with “I haven’t actually, um, heard that?”

Well, I haven’t heard that either. Maybe there’s not as much anonymous sex in this city as there used to be because, y’know, AIDS, but I’ve been to plenty of parties with sexual tension to go around. A few Manhattan people are too coked out and workaholic and obsessed with internet status to fuck each other senseless? They just have their priorities out of whack, and I don’t believe many of these people exist because I’ve never, ever met them. If people want to have sex but aren’t, it usually means no one will let them.

To fight anecdotal evidence with anecdotal evidence, I posted Freeman’s story to my Facebook wall and someone said, “Man, whatever. I do blow and fuck like every night.” Does that count as a trend?

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Things that Don't Suck: Doonesbury

The funny thing about newspaper comic strips—I mean “funny” not as in “ha ha, good joke” but as in “strange, unsettling, troubling”—is how bad they are. Unacceptably bad, really terrible, just shockingly awful, especially when you consider the thousands of people who are drawing pictures and writing jokes and thinking of stories at this very second—why do so many comic strips seem to be created by those who can do none of these things? Why do so many strips hit the trifecta of being poorly drawn, unfunny, and consisting of characters who are just cardboard cutouts delivering stale jokes that weren’t funny the first time you heard them? Why, oh why Lord, in a universe where only so much time is allotted to us to enjoy earthly pleasures, does Momma exist?

Here’s where I could start researching the history of the syndication system, where I could discuss the demographics of most newspaper comics readers (my guess is they are very old and prone to writing letters when their favorite strips are cancelled) and the general tendency of mass media to produce bland entertainment that enfolds our daily existence like a soggy beige envelope—but lets skip all that. Let’s talk about Doonesbury instead, which for me is the last of the great comic strips, something akin to a the last majestic dinosaur struggling through the ashen landscape surrounded by malnourished rodents picking at the bones of his contemporaries.

What non-comics fans don’t think about very often is there were really great comic strips in the past, a roster I’d say includes Peanuts, Krazy Kat, Pogo, a bunch of classic adventure strips like Dick Tracy and Little Orphan Annie, Nemo’s Adventures in Slumberland (still trippy to look at after all these years), Gasoline Alley in its way—it was the first strip in which the characters aged, a rare feature that Doonesbury adopted—and more recently Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, and maybe The Far Side, but really the art for that last strip is pretty sub-par compared to the rest of the list. A few of those strips still survive today, but they are horrifying zombie carcasses of their former selves who should be shotgunned out of the pages of the papers they appear in (take a look at old Gasoline Alley strips—Fantagraphics has been putting out anthologies—and you’ll see how the strip has changed, mostly for the worse). There’s a lot of variety in all those strips I just mentioned, but all of their creators put blood and sweat, if not tears, into the work every day. Today so, so many strips are two or three panels with lazy linework, one bubble of dialogue per panel, and a flat punchline. They simply don’t try.

Doonesbury tries. It tries so hard that it has a whole set of problems that other comics don’t have. For instance, the strip’s cast of characters, originally a group of college students sharing a house way back in the early 70s, has expanded to the point where there are probably at least a hundred unique, named people that had recurring roles. It’s sort of intimidating to dive into a strip like that and try to figure out who everyone is—and what other strip can be intimidating to dive into? In addition, Doonesbury keeps up with current events in a way few other strips do, so if you only read the comics and sports pages, you likely won’t get some of the jokes, or care enough to follow the strip for long.

But wow, if you get into Doonesbury, there’s a lot to enjoy. There are elements of the serial-adventure strip in it (as I write these words, Jeff Redfern, son of strip regular Rick Redfern, is attempting to save a dictator from a bloodthirsty revolutionary mob in order to pay off a debt to a defense contractor), but every strip has a joke at the end, and pre-punchline dialogue that is pretty sharp. Sometimes, especially on Sundays, it turns into more of an editorial cartoon, which is why some papers have put Doonesbury permanently on the op-ed page. Most significantly in recent years, the strip has focused on veterans and active-duty military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq, and by what I’ve heard doing a pretty good job representing and discussing pretty serious issues.

Then there’s the art, which has evolved from Gary Trudeau’s fairly dreadful chicken scratches in 1970 to a competent, workmanlike style in the 80s that repeated the same image across panels--the exterior of the White House, a character sitting in front of a television--far too often, to today’s strips, which are exceptionally clean, and stand out from other strips because it looks like someone took the time to storyboard them and to display the scene from different angles to create a sense of action—a simple thing, arguably, but something that no other comic on the page does.

The big flaw in Doonesbury is the political slant; it’s undeniably the work of a liberal who cares about politics, and sometimes, like in this February 13th Sunday strip, it really does become something like an editorial cartoon, or an extremely short op-ed column. I imagine that the more conservative you are, the less Doonesbury feels like art and the more it feels like windbaggy propaganda. (I’ve heard the same thing said about The Wire.) And like every strip ever made, there are off days, there are relatively boring storylines, there are places where it lags.

But seen as a continuous document, a narrative—like a soap opera or an exceptionally long novel—Doonesbury is an incredible achievement. It’s not just the story of a large and varied cast of characters, it’s the story of American politics over the last 40 years, seen through the perspective of journalists, activists, hippies, farmers, lobbyists, and soldiers. Doonesbury is the War and Peace of comic strips. It’s what journalism aspires to be, a rough draft of history. No other comic strip in newspaper history has linked itself so closely with current events. I’ve literally learned about the 80s by reading old Doonesbury collections, and you could do worse things for a clever child with an interest in politics than giving him some Doonesbury books. The strip really does merit preserving for future generations to look at, and I can’t think of any current comic about which the same could be said.
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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Huckabee? More Like Suckabee, Am I Right?

The word “likable” gets thrown around a lot when we talk about politicians, but man, was Mike Huckabee ever likable in 2008. His pet cause wasn’t abortion or defense, but fighting child obesity with Bill Clinton. He was overtly Christian, but he didn’t seem to be the judgmental kind—you got the sense that he really was compassionate towards us sinners. He made a campaign commercial with Chuck Norris! He plays bass! He wasn’t exactly “hip”—he’s a conservative politician from Arkansas, after all—but he didn’t seem “evil,” the way Dick Cheney was evil. I disagree with probably every single position Huckabee articulated (except for the anti-obesity stuff), but that’s because I’m a godless sex-and-drug-loving New York liberal. Still, I felt like the two of us could have sit down over a non-fat yogurt and had a good chat about football.

So my question is, what the fuck is wrong with Mike Huckabee lately?

Last week, Huckabee made some comments about how Obama grew up in Kenya—which is just factually wrong, and seems like a nod to the “birther” or “nutjob” part of the Republican coalition, which believes that Obama was born in Kenya because ????. It was an especially weird thing to say because Obama did spend some of his early years in Muslim-dominated Indonesia, and you’d think that bringing that up and implying that Obama had his mind poisoned by Islamists would be enough. Huckabee backtracked by saying he “misspoke,” which didn’t make any sense because he talked about the Mau Mau Revolution and the British, which are specific to Kenya, not Indonesia. His explanation is like someone getting blackout drunk and throwing all up over your couch and then saying, “Sorry man, I tripped.”

Let’s assume Huckabee was not being stupid or drunk when he said that stuff on the radio; let’s further assume that he intends to make a serious run for the Republican nomination—even though neither of these things are certainties. What the fuck could he have been thinking?

1. He’s the “Christian candidate” in the race, so he wants to get some of the hard-C-Conservative-but-soft-c-christian voters (the paranoid Beckians who think Obama is Stalin or whatever) that support Sarah Palin. Except he already leads the field among birthers, so why go out of his way to appeal to them?

2. He is actually an incredibly savvy politician who is willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good of the GOP. He figures that even though polls show him and Mitt Romney running about the same versus Obama, the tall, handsome, and sorta-moderate (for a Republican in 2012) Romney has a better chance of winning in the general election. So Huckabee is purposely marginalizing himself by making wacky comments about Obama and Natalie Portman. He’ll still be the Christian candidate, and he’ll get the nod to be the Vice-Presidential candidate—a Romeny-Huckabee ticket would probably have the best chance of beating Obama.

That second option would make sense if I explained it using chalkboards and tied it to the Koch brothers somehow, like a Bizarro Glenn Beck, but really, Huckabee could just throw his support to Romney at a critical point in the primary if he wanted to be VP. So it was just a gaffe, the kind of gaffe that Huckabee wasn’t making in 2008. I’m still confused by the whole incident. Did he really think that Obama grew up in Kenya? Maybe he wouldn’t be fun to sit down with after all.

This fine Politico article on Huckabee and Israel—he’s a Christian Zionist, which I guess is like being a reverse Jew for Jesus—includes this bit near the end:

Some pro-Israel Jews view with suspicion Christian Zionists like Huckabee because of the belief among some fundamentalist Christians that gathering the Jews in the Holy Land will precipitate the Second Coming and the end of the world.

Huckabee wouldn’t directly describe his view on that belief but dismissed it as irrelevant.

Here’s a good question for Huckabee: Why is it so hard to say, “No, I am not supporting certain policies because I believe they will bring about the end of the world.”? You would think that “Not wanting to literally destroy the planet” would be a position that every Presidential candidate, regardless of party, would want to endorse. Jesus Christ, how many Christians that are actively hankering for the Rapture can there be for Huckabee to want to avoid offending them? Let’s be clear on something: HE DECLINED TO DESCRIBE HIS VIEW ON THE END OF THE WORLD. I don’t think that’s irrelevant.

Immediately following that bit excerpted above, Huckabee is quoted as saying, “The reason this, as an American, matters to me is because freedom and liberty matter to me,” which the Palestinians would find odd—but more importantly, he says, “as an American,” possibly implying that “as a Christian” he supports Israel for different reasons, well…

I usually try to avoid fearmongering, but, what the heck.


Kinda makes Romney's modest jobs-based campaign seem not so bad, huh?
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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Things that don't Suck: The Larry Sanders Show

I wrote something over at Splitsider, a blog that takes comedy very seriously, about the Larry Sanders Show, an HBO sitcom from the 90s that laid the foundation for the next 20 years of 30-minute comedy shows. The show was one of the first not to have a live audience or laugh track and--well, just read thing if you want to find out, alright? I don't give a shit. Here's a clip of the show:
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Friday, February 25, 2011

Why Larry King Sucks

I wrote a letter to Larry King on this website. I hope he reads it! Or, I hope his assistant reads it to him. Read more!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why Complaining About How There's no Good Men Sucks

Hey, did you think that the well of “20-somethings-represent-a-whole-new-paradigm-for-adulthood-and-the-way-we-live” newspaper articles was empty after that long sorta-expose the New York Times did last year? Well, the Wall Street Journal doesn’t think so—they just published this long piece by Kay Hymowitz that at this moment has 47,000 Facebook likes and 1,100 comments. Hymowitz talks about all the stuff the Times article talks about (young people are undergoing extended periods of adolescence and not getting married, buying a house, and/or starting a career right after college, etc.) but adds her own little twist—in an endearing combination of feminism and reactionary traditionalism, she complains that this “pre-adulthood” is hurting women, because all the men are too immature to be long-term relationship material. Or as she puts it:
Among pre-adults, women are the first sex. They graduate from college in greater numbers (among Americans ages 25 to 34, 34% of women now have a bachelor's degree but just 27% of men), and they have higher GPAs. As most professors tell it, they also have more confidence and drive. These strengths carry women through their 20s, when they are more likely than men to be in grad school and making strides in the workplace. In a number of cities, they are even out-earning their brothers and boyfriends.

Still, for these women, one key question won't go away: Where have the good men gone? Their male peers often come across as aging frat boys, maladroit geeks or grubby slackers—a gender gap neatly crystallized by the director Judd Apatow in his hit 2007 movie "Knocked Up."

The immature, Apatow-movie-watching, maladroit geek in me wants to snark back with something like, “Where have all the good men gone, Kay? Away from you as fast as fucking possible, that’s for sure!” Then I’d high-five my grubby slacker buddy and we’d go right back to playing Left 4 Dead, snacking on salty, chemically-flavored chips, and periodically taking bong hits.

But you know what? I’m a fucking adult, so let’s actually talk about Hymowitz’s ideas. Perhaps because it’s is adapted from her book, the article is sort of confusing: after telling us about the dangerously low supply of good men in America, she backs away and discusses the formation of “pre-adulthood” in a gender-neutral way. It takes longer to get a good, stable job in today’s market—you have to go to college, and probably bounce around a few jobs before you have something you can properly call a “career.” People’s age at the time of their first marriage has been rising steadily since the 70s. And the media—oh, those bastards!—are encouraging our young men to remain barely-sentient towers of meat who giggle at fart jokes. Hymowitz blames the lack of good dating options for heterosexual women on Maxim, Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, Spike TV, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Steve Carell, and Seth Rogen.

As much as I like the idea of a bunch of frat-humor outlets teaming up with Hollywood and advertisers to keep men dumb and single so they have disposable income to spend on body spray and fancy booze and video games, I think it’s probably more likely that being a grubby guffawing boor makes you read Maxim and watch Adam Sandler movies than the other way around.

To deal with the other pieces of Hymowitz’s narrative: people aren’t getting married as much as they were in the 50s and 60s, and that’s probably a good thing. Women couldn’t earn as much as men, so it made sense for them to land a fella and become housewives as soon as possible. Now that women can have careers, they do have careers and don’t get married so young. Another explanation for the marriage age rising, courtesy of Matt Yglesias: “Maybe this number just bounces around over time and it’s always been the case that some people are sometimes frustrated with some members of the opposite sex.”

Anecdotally, I would say that there are plenty of 20-somethings who follow the guidelines given to them by the trend pieces. But an upper class of shiftless layabouts who aren’t employed at anything in particular is nothing new. Remember the dandies or whatever in England, or wherever the dandies were? (They were probably invented by trend article writers too.) Remember Baudelaire, a prominent proto-pre-adult?

Hymowitz probably wouldn’t consider Baudelaire marriage material, what with the syphilis and the drug addiction and all. But he doesn’t match the description of the archetypal pre-adult man that she uses in her concluding paragraph: “Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven—and often does.”

Nor does that description match anyone I’ve ever met, except for maybe my dorm neighbor my freshman year, who would literally lie in bed eating candy and playing video games. Even the men I know who have moved back home with their parents, or are unemployed for long periods of time, or are chronically single, aren’t the kind of shiftless hedonists of the sort that Hymowitz is convinced are replacing the “good men,” Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style.

I’m not a woman, or an old person, but weren’t good men always hard to find? Wasn’t that the whole point of the saying, “A good man is hard to find”? Now that women can become successful for themselves and don’t need to latch onto a man—anything with a penis and a paycheck—for the sake of long-term security, they can take their time and pick out a man to share a life and a house and chromosomes with. Picking out a romantic partner can be pretty complicated, especially when you have high standards, and especially when you have to find someone who will love you back. That’s tricky! Maybe you’ll like someone and they won’t like you, or someone will like you and you’ll be in a relationship, or you’ll really like each other but one of you has to move across the country—both of you being hard-charging professional types—and thus, leaves the other behind. Love is complicated, as pop music has taught me. It’s complicated and hard, and you don’t have to invent bullshit pop-sociological reasons for why the guys who are around you are losers.

Where Have all the Good Men Gone? [WSJ]

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Why Fashion Week Sucks: An Event Diary

There’s a girl dressed in all black checking names off a list when you walk in. If your name is on the list you get to go to the second floor in a tiny elevator. You can ask, but you are not allowed to go up the stairs. A woman in a fur coat tells the girl she’s with something called Fitz, with a z, and spells it out. Other girls dressed in black hurry out of the door and onto the dark street on some kind of important errand.

Upstairs, the elevator opens into a small, softly lit room. People are gradually filling it up, waiting for something to happen and getting complimentary vodka drinks mixed by two more girls in black. They carefully combine ice, juice, tonic, and a certain brand of vodka on a table at one end of the room, while a movie in black and white is projected onto the curtains behind them. All of the people working at this event are wearing all black and all are conventionally pretty young women. Many of the women and men spilling from the tiny elevator in bunches are conventionally pretty; some have foreign accents. There’s an animal skull on the wall. It’s impossible to tell what movie is playing because it’s on mute and the folds of the curtain distort the image.

The people are not watching the movie. They are mostly talking about the places they have been, the people they know who aren’t here. Introductions are made over the generic thumping dance music floating in from somewhere. “I actually tweeted you,” a man with long blond hair says to an older woman with impeccably painted red nails. Conversational clusters form. If you aren’t part of a cluster, you stand against the wall with your drink and look around at the other clusterless people. Or you get out your phone and stare at its blue glow—many people are doing that. “I’ve been to a few parties here,” a stylish young man tells his cluster of other stylish young men. “There were all these guys coming out of the bathroom together.”

Everyone in the increasingly crowded room is stylish. It’s unclear who is waiting in line to get another drink and who is trapped by the crush of people. A nervous-looking guy in a zebra-striped shirt keeps going back to the vodka table. Whatever is supposed to happen hasn’t started happening yet. The black-clad vodka girls use a new cup for every drink until they run out of cups. “Who does your color?” says someone waiting for a drink to someone else.

The elevator doors open, deposit more people, and close. This keeps happening. A woman makes a distressed noise and starts hitting the closing door like a prisoner pleading with her jailer. “Her boyfriend,” someone says knowingly. Finally the doors open and she stumbles in. Someone asks about if there’s a bathroom here or what and no one knows.

A signal has been made; knowledge of the next stage of this event passes through the crowd. A door opens and people press towards it in an orderly but eager fashion, like children queuing for a mall Santa. There are complimentary cans of ice tea on a table near the door but no one takes them. The generic dance music gets louder as the people surge into the next room. This is where the event will take place.

The center of the new room is occupied by a narrow raised platform covered in brown construction paper. There are chairs to either side labeled with numbers and letters, and if you have a seat assignment you sit down, elbow-to-elbow with the other seated people. Is a chair a sign of status? The others stand, crowding each other all the way back to the wall. A pretty girl in black is sitting at a podium doing something on a computer; maybe she’s controlling the music. Everyone is getting out cameras and cell phones with cameras in them. A video camera on a tripod is set at the foot of the platform.

More pretty girls in black come and take the construction paper away, and the narrow black platform shines like a freshly polished shoe. People type words into their phones, bring up menus, communicate over social networking platforms.. A man walks across the platform, leaving footprints of dust. The crowd grumbles at him—“He just did that?”—and the people nearest the platform wipe off the footprints with napkins and sleeves.

A hidden door slides open at the head of the platform and smoke or fog from an unseen machine comes billowing out. The music gets louder, more urgent, and everyone sits forward in their chairs, preparing their cameras. Without an introduction, a man strides down the platform wearing a full-length coat that looks like it’s made out of furry intestines. Gasps are heard. He stops for a split second at the foot of the platform then turns and walks away. Another man takes his place immediately, wearing a waist-length version of the same coat, then he goes back into the foggy opening.

Men are walking down the platform one by one, in a very organized way. Some of them wear makeup, one has a black mask on. They all look very similar; if they weren’t all dressed differently you might think they were the same man. Everyone takes photos of the men all the time, but they don’t stop to pose. They look like they want to get this over with as fast as possible. One wears a jacket with feathers, another has no shirt, another wears a shirt that exposes his stomach. “Look at the footwear!” someone says.

It is over faster than you would think. At the end all the men come out at once in a single-file line, walking up and down the platform as a group to the crowd’s applause. It’s like they’re proving that they all are different men, like they are displaying the end result of a complicated magic trick. A man in all black, like a stagehand, appears out of the fog and there is more applause. No one makes a speech or explains anything. There is nothing to explain, or it’s like that quote about jazz, if you have to ask you’ll never know. Everyone here knows.

The rush to get out the door begins. Some people push through the crowd searching for the vodka table, wondering if it’s still open for business. Others are talking about other places to go, upcoming events, past events this has reminded them of. The phones come out again. The elevator doors open and close, taking people downstairs now instead of up. Outside the street is lit up with headlights and neon. Some guys are standing at a closed loading dock smoking weed. Plastic bags are carried over the sidewalk by the wind. Women pull the collars of their fur coats up, their high heels clacking on the pavement.

(Image ripped off from Oakazine)
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Why Valentine's Day Sucks

Science has yet to discover anything less original than a single person whining about how tough they have it on Valentine’s Day. “All those couples are giving each other gifts and slurping pasta romantically and then going to bedrooms to have sex as a couple, and I’m all alone and I’m just going to get drunk and watch TV in my underwear—my gross, staying-at-home-alone underwear, not the sexy underwear the Valentine’s couples are wearing—and then masturbate and feel awful about myself! Wahh! It’s so hard being single in the city!” Jesus, calm down, imaginary straw-man single person I just invented. There’s nothing wrong with masturbating and watching television. Do you know how many of those couples would rather not have the stress of having to have a romantic time out on a night mandated by a greeting card company?

The more thoughtful single people know that no one wants to hear them whining, so they acknowledge that Valentine’s Day is bad for couples too. That argument works like this: Romance that’s forcibly squeezed into a specific date isn’t romantic—it’s not spontaneous, and what’s more, the traditional Valentine’s Day trappings are pathetically unoriginal. Flowers, roses, chocolates, a red tablecloth? Bleh. I remember last Valentine’s Day, when I was coupled, standing in line at a chocolate shop, buying the same heart-shaped box of chocolates that a dozen other men--UPS workers, businessmen, and deli clerks--were also standing in line to buy. The alternative is to spend days thinking about, planning, and executing some grand, romantic-comedy-esque gesture, something involving her favorite album and a skywriter and dirt from the first park you ever had sex in—and who has time for that?

Some people actually like Valentine’s Day, though, and that should be respected. Maybe they don’t have a lot of time for romance, and maybe it’s nice for them to have a day set aside to eat chocolate, dress up for your partner for once, eat a good meal, and have some sex. Doesn’t that sound nice? Who honestly scoffs at that for being “unoriginal”? Especially if you’re in a long-term coupling situation, where you don’t do that stuff ordinarily, and especially if you’ve got kids and can’t do that stuff ordinarily.

The real problem with Valentine’s Day is that it’s the only secular holiday that actively excludes people. Are you really good at Valentine’s Day? Do you give great gifts and love trading smoky glances over candlelight? Well, you better have a significant other when February 14 comes around, or you can’t celebrate. You’re out in the cold with the other single people, going to some awful “ironic” Valentine’s Day event where the other singles reek of loneliness and cheap perfume. “We don’t care that we’re single!” the single people at these events will tell each other nervously over too many drinks. “Haha! We’re self-actualized individuals who know that happiness comes from an inner sense of accomplishment, not validation from a romantic life partner who will end up leaving us, just like everyone in our life to this point has left us! Haha!” I heard about a speed-dating event scheduled for February 13th, which depressed me immensely. If you are single the day before Valentine’s Day, for God’s sake, just keep being single. Have some pride, or at least pretend you do.

Single people have to ignore Valentine’s Day. We have no other choice. Banding together in groups and making a big deal out of our singledom just reminds us, and the world, that okay, maybe we do kind of care that we never wake up to someone holding us and even if chocolates are terribly played out it might be nice, once in a while, for someone else to buy us some. That sometimes we go home and drink wine straight out of the bottle because what really is the point of a glass when we are all alone, anyway? Just about the only thing that will make us feel better is blogging about how awful Valentine’s Day is. Aren’t all bloggers single?

To end on a moderately up note, Andre 3000’s “Happy Valentine’s Day” is a good song. But we are trying to ignore Valentine’s Day, so:
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why Internet Porn Sucks

Here's a link to a letter I wrote to online pornography. One of many money shots that are included in it:
Oh, she’s sucking his dick? That’s nice, I guess, even though he’s having kind of a hard time keeping it up, probably because he did a bunch of coke before they started shooting. How long does this go on for? Jesus, five whole minutes of this monotonous dick-sucking? Now what? Oh, she’s gotten on top of him—great, a long shot of her rubbery labia bouncing up and down on his smooth balls without the distraction of being able to see either of their faces. Yeah, this is hot.
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How, Exactly, Super Bowl XLV Will Suck: A Preview

The Super Bowl is a gleaming structure of unnecessary media. The Super Bowl exists to sell ad space. The Super Bowl is a secular feastday. The Super Bowl is a softcore orgy. The Super Bowl is the Super Bowl of commercials. The Super Bowl is an oxymoron: mandatory entertainment. The Super Bowl is a paean to consumption, and an opportunity for everyone to consume. The Super Bowl celebrates the worst in music. The Super Bowl is, stripped of the fireworks and graphics and the overlong halftime show and the “buzzed-about” commercials and the week of parties attended by Hawaiian-shirted sportswriters and drunken corporate VPs looking for cocaine and underage prostitutes—at the bottom of the bottomless pit filled with shiny things and men with white teeth selling us cars, the Super Bowl is a football game, which is a problem.

The NFL schedule’s greatest strength is in excess. Every week there are way too many games for anyone to watch. You literally can’t watch them all, even if you plant yourself in front of your 55-inch 1080p flatscreen all Sunday, even if you have other, smaller flatscreens placed strategically around your living room playing different games. During football season, our Sundays runneth over with huge men hurting each other and doing amazing things in pursuit of a ball. Even if the Bills-Raiders contest is lousy, there are always other games, or you can turn to the Red Zone channel—brought to you by Old Spice or some shit—and watch touchdown after touchdown until your pupils dilate.

The Super Bowl reveals that a single football game is rarely interesting. There are long stretches when the ball is being spotted or when a challenge flag has been thrown where we’re watching the greatest athletes in the world stand around and sweat in their pads. Normally, we’d flip over to another game, but we can’t on Super Bowl Sunday. If the game is sloppy or one-sided, we’ll be stuck sitting glassy-eyed in front of the screen, drinking our Coors-the-official-sponsor-of-the-NFL beers and waiting for the commercials to come on. What are we going to do, not watch?

Then there’s the problem of the necessary media narrative. During the season, sportswriters have 32 teams to write about, and an abundance of stories. Most of them involve the Cowboys or Brett Favre, and teams like the Steelers and Packers—apart from a few injuries and rape allegations, mostly drama-free—are ignored until they are the only teams left to talk about, at which point the sportswriters have to figure out how to make the teams sound important. It’s not enough to say, “These are a bunch of men contractually obligated to play together, who have been talented, lucky, and well-coached enough to beat all the other teams. Some of them are concussed, some of them are not exactly Rhodes Scholars even without the concussions, and some of them you would not want to see walk into your bar, especially if you were a young woman. Now they will compete against each other for your amusement.” That’s accurate, but not dramatic enough for the news cycle.

So here are the narratives from today’s position coaches are underrated; Donald Driver has gone through some shit and is now a Christian with a stable family; the Packers’ offense is very good; Clay Matthews has long hair. (That last one was written by Rick Reilly, who is literally running on fumes at this point, by which I mean he carries around a sock filled with paint he huffs from every five minutes.) I haven’t seen the inevitable article about the grand traditions and legends of both teams, but I’m sure some plucky, overweight scribe is typing that article out as you read this. Ben Roethlisberger might be written about in a serious, sort-of-sympathetic way—he will apologize for past behavior, pledge to be more mature and to face his demons. “I want to just focus on football now,” he’ll say. The sentence, “Forced himself upon a young woman in a bathroom stall while his entourage stood guard” will not appear.

(Oh wait, the sympathy for Big Ben has already begun, even before reporters ask him questions! “No matter what he says, it'll be a grueling day for the big guy.” Well, at least he won’t be sexually assaulted.)

After the narrative, human-interest stories have been exhausted, it’ll be time for the ritual of predictions. Will the Packers high-octane offense triumph over Troy Polamalu and the savage Pittsburgh defense? Will Big Ben’s precision passes evade the gloves of Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson? The ex-athletes, sportswriters, and other men in suits on television will opine on these and other topics, then finish with something along the lines of, “In the end, though, I think Green Bay just has too many weapons on offense, and an underrated defense that’s going to stand up to Big Ben.”

They will say this extremely seriously, and then someone else will disagree with equal seriousness, like they are discussing unrest in the Arab world. Then the game will ultimately be decided by a botched call, an inadvertent hand wrapped around a facemask, a long pass just out of reach of a receiver, a flubbed snap, a missed tackle that turns a 10-yard rush into a touchdown. It will be a great game, or it will be an interminable blowout. Either way, confetti will rain down at the end, and the winning quarterback will be praised for overcoming adversity, whether it's Aaron Rodgers's concussions or Roethlisberger’s rape allegations. Trophies will be hoisted, rings will be awarded. A city in the middle of the country will be filled with honking horns and cries of ecstasy. No matter who wins, someone in an oversized Packers jersey will be weeping somewhere. We’ll all sit in a television haze, bloated and bleary. Glee will come on. The winning players, some still dazed from headshots, will be spraying champagne on each other like giant drunken children. Dallas will be flooded with prostitutes, drug dealers, and middle-aged fans roaming the streets. Sportswriters will file copy and head to the bar. Prediction: Pittsburgh 24, Green Bay 17
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lance Armstrong Sucks at Not Being an Asshole

Here's my latest post on Cheating Culture, about Lance Armstrong and steroids. Armstrong is one of those athletes who has accomplished these great feats-beating cancer, dominating the Tour De France--while being a jerk, i.e., getting people around him to tell lies that go on for decades, and smearing the reputation of anyone who accuses him of using banned substances. Successful athletes have been held up as paragons of virtue for so long that it's hard to imagine that they are vile people in private. But clearly Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger et al. are jerks at best and deeply immoral at worst. It's as if having a lot of money and fame and power come to you for playing a game in your mid-20's is somehow a bad thing. Read more!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why Being Sick When You Are an Adult Sucks

You wake up and feel like shit. Which is actually not headline news, because you were out drinking last night, which you do a lot, and when you aren’t out drinking you’re in drinking, but this shit you’re feeling is worse than that usual dryness-on-the-inside-of-your-body ache. You throat is scraped raw, like sometime during the night you stuck a rusty spoon down it, and your headache is an unusually hot and heavy one. Your whole forehead feels like an oddly throbbing bruise. If only scientists could harness the power of your headache, the country’s carbon usage would fall by whole percentage points.

Now, are you actually sick? You haven’t puked, although your stomach is making a fist. You get out of bed. Jesus, you’re shivering uncontrollably, it’s fucking freezing and you start this horrible coughing that is really alarming—time to call in to work sick.

When you were a kid, you savored that moment when your parental figure finally gave in and was like, “Alright, I guess you’ll have to stay home,” making your heart surge. Stay home! All right! Except now you are your own parental unit and you actually want to go to work. Or not “want,” exactly, but if you’re working a shit per-hour job you need that money you won’t earn in your bed or contorted over your uncleaned-in-weeks toilet gagging; and if you have a job with some responsibility that pays you a salary, well, you better get well enough to stumble to your laptop and answer some emails or there will be a mess waiting for you when you get back.

Also, remember those childhood sickdays when your parental unit—unsexed here because we don’t want to offend anyone whose father was the primary caregiver and nurturer, but we’re talking about an essentially maternal figure—would take the day off work, if he or she worked, and just hover around you giving you cough syrup and water and tea and toast lightly drizzled with honey and chicken noodle soup and whatever else you felt you could consume without heaving green bile into a pot that the primary caregiver was thoughtful enough to place at your bedside? Remember when you were asked, “What do you need, honey? Do you need anything?” That was the best part of being sick, and the best part of having parents, actually, is that sense of having someone who cares about your desires, who will ask you what you need and be sincere and even be willing to go out of her way to physically provide the thing whose absence has left a hole in your preadolescent heart, unless this thing is something impossible like a helicopter or something that you really don’t need, like a ferret or a box of chemically flavored fudge or another fucking video game system. What is life, once you’ve become taller than your parents and wandered afield, other than a search for someone who will once again ask you, “What do you need?” and mean it?

Well, anyway, you could sure use someone asking you those questions, but your roommates are gone doing whatever it is they do during the day and your fridge and cabinets are not exactly stocked with cans of nurturing soup and cold medication and herbal remedies. This reminds you that you live the kind of life where you basically have half a six pack, some mustard, bacon, and a few half-eaten vegetables in your fridge and not much else, and maybe you really should try to be healthier, or at least better prepared. But that’s for later. Now, you should get some supplies for being sick, which gets at the crux of what it’s like to be sick and on your own.

Are you going to go to the store? You can’t really drive, what with these shivers and this fever, and you aren’t going to get on a fucking bus in this condition, so you better hope the hypothetical second person tense this is about lives in a metro area in walking distance of a corner store or pharmacy. And then you have to carry the stuff home yourself, trembling in the suddenly-freezing weather, coughing with your entire body on the street like one of those homeless guys on his really depressing last legs, and you have to heat the soup up yourself, when what you really need to do is lie down in the bed that no one is making for you. You give up on soup. You drink tap water, lots of tap water, and then try juice but it makes you nearly vomit. Juice later then. You scarf aspirin down, feel your forehead, the stupidity of taking your own temperature. The afternoon light outside your window goes gray and then fades. You’re pretty sure you won’t puke now.

When you’re sick you can’t entertain yourself by surfing the internet—too much effort—and you can only read if you’re really dedicated to the book and your head doesn’t start throbbing. You can maybe manage a movie, half watching it and half sort of trying to sleep, but it has to be something stupid, the kind of movie you usually hate, and you hate it now, watching it—being sick doesn’t make you dumber. Do you try to masturbate? Masturbating when you’re sick, when you have the chills and are coated in a thin layer of dried sweat and your head is pounding, is terrible, it’s like trying to have sex while your sick, as if anyone would let you do that, and you can only bring yourself to orgasm if you try way too hard for way to long, and it isn’t even any good and you feel fucking disgusting afterwards. Don’t masturbate when you’re feeling sick. Just lie there, doing that kind of moaning thing you did when you were sick and home along, where you make a sustained noise with your mouth that combines the vibration of a vibrating phone with the sustained low-pitch whine of a circular saw. It sounds like a robot dying but you feel better when you do it, somehow, like a sonic security blanket, although you couldn’t do it when your parental unit was home because, you learned the hard way, they would get pretty alarmed that their child would make a noise like that for an extended period of time.

If you are sick for more than one day, you wonder if you will die of your illness. This is ignorant and self-centered, but it happens. Isn’t there a chance that you have something really serious masquerading as a flu? It could be like an episode of House where the patient of the week thinks she’s just sick, but she’s been sick for a month and her concerned loving husband (secretly a gambling addict, we learn in a side plot!) takes her in and House’s team solves her problem easily and is ready to discharge her but then she starts anally bleeding and has this horrible rash on her arm, oh god, and her eyes are slowly filling with blood while the white-coated doctors banter about how it can’t be that one obscure disease because otherwise she would have no sense of smell, and there’s a tearful scene with her gambling-addict husband and she is like, “Am I going to die? They won’t tell me,” and he goes “Yes, and I’m not going to tell you about my gambling addiction because I love you so much, more than baccarat, and I want to spare you pain in your final moments,” and things are looking really bad until House himself, as the result of a side plot where he has taken up recreational hatchet-throwing as a way to bond with Cuddy, solves the mystery of the patient’s anal bleeding and nearly kills someone with a hatchet in his haste to administer the exact right medication to the patient, who, you have to wonder at the end, is still not in the best place because she still doesn’t know that the husband lost the mortgage in one white-knuckled night of high-stakes blackjack.

Well, this will not happen to you, thankfully. You will just gradually get better until you just have a cold and you won’t drink for a while and then you will be drinking again and you will learn nothing from this, your kitchen will still just have a bunch of shitty junk food in it that a sick person could not eat.

But while you wait to get better, you still have to stand in front of your stove cooking scrambled eggs—the thought of more complex foods makes your stomach clench in protest—in your bathrobe, which is inside out because who gives a fuck? and your t-shirt that is your least favorite t-shirt because it has about 20 tiny holes in it, and you are blowing your nose into your t-shirt because there aren’t any Kleenex in reach and you are like, man, I must have done something wrong for this to happen to me. At least when you’re hungover, there’s a reason for it.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Abe Sauer's Great Piece on Why Christian Aid in Haiti Sucks

I don’t read everything that appears on the internet, but surely Abe Sauer’s long, exhaustively-researched hit piece on Christian aid groups in Haiti illegally using government money from USAID to proselytize to the voodoo-practicing Haitians before giving them aid was just about the best thing that flashed across anyone’s monitor last week. The law states that the US government can give money to Christian groups as long as they in turn spend that money caring for the needy and don’t thrust Bibles into native hands at the same time they, the Christian groups, are bandaging up those hands. Because, y’know, if the US formally funded groups devoted spreading evangelical Christianity in the third world it would violate the Constitution in a pretty direct way.

I don’t have anything really to say about the piece itself, other than you should go read it, right now, the whole thing, but I will say that whenever the religious right (and the organizations mentioned in this article are undoubtedly right-wing; they have Sarah Palin’s support and some are overseen by the Graham family) gets the government to bend backwards to appease their agenda, I get visibly angry. Not at the Christians, necessarily, but at the atheists, agnostics, and others that generally oppose the Christians’ goals but aren’t motivated or organized enough to stop them.

Look, I know the United States is a Christian nation--not “founded on Christian principles,” but clearly, dominated demographically by Christians. Furthermore, a lot of these Christians have no problem just standing up and yelling, “Stop teaching my children evolution!” or “Put the Ten Commandments outside of this motherfucking courthouse!” (They don’t say “motherfucking,” but the tone is close enough.) A lot of people who disagree with these statements—which are fucking insane, by the way—are more or less happy to ignore the Christians, or laugh them off, and basically go about their merry, non-spiritual business as organisms.

The problem with this is that the Christians win this way. As an atheist, I’m having more and more of a problem with that.

For years, I didn’t want to argue with any Christians, or be vocal about my non-belief. Because no one wants to listen to that smug asshole atheist yammering about the inconsistencies in the Bible and treating Christians like brain-damaged infants. But there’s a difference between letting people believe what they believe and having a situation where a US-funded aid group refuses to give a job to a Haitian man until he converts to Christianity. That shit is not okay, and it’s not anti-Christian to say so. We don’t have to fruitlessly debate the existence of God to point out that turning USAID into a Christian organization is terrible foreign policy.

Of course, some Christians believe that it is their duty to convert the unbelievers, especially the brown, downtrodden unbelievers who have just gone through a disaster and are emotionally fragile and have more immediate problems than a lack of Jesus, such as, their entire families are dead and they have no food or medicine. If you’re one of those Christians that believes that telling those people about Jesus is “helping” them, fuck you. Read more!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Political News is Going to Suck for a While: Your 2012 Republican Primary Preview

In modern times, there’s no such thing as an “election year.” Elections never cease. Even now, after one election has barely ended, we’re already polling, punditing, and raging about the next election, which won’t actually happen for 22 months. This is good news if you like the kind of political reporting in which elections are treated like horse races, only these races last a lot longer and the horses die out one by one and collapse on the track until there is just one horse left standing on the pile of dead horses wheezing and bleeding and having had huge patches of skin ripped from its body in the course of the race, and this horse pledges to restore civility to Washington and get things done, dammit, while beneath the winning horse, the dead horses slowly start to come back to life, making statements via Twitter and pledging to tear the winning horse into pieces. For those of us who don’t enjoy this spectacle, the prospect of primaries “just around the corner” makes us shiver and break out into a cold sweat.

Thankfully, we don’t need to care about the 2012 presidential election. We don’t need to write long, speculative pieces in New York magazine about how Sarah Palin could become president, or talk about whether Michael Bloomberg will run as a third-party candidate, or parse the minutiae—and oh God, will there be minutiae—of the Republican primary. We don’t need to talk about this stuff even if we really follow the news and care about politics. Why not? Because unless something changes, like we hit another recession, or he gets caught in a hotel room with a dead woman or a live boy, Obama is going to win reelection, and might even do so fairly easily, which would render the primary season pretty much moot.

Moot how? Well, some potential candidates like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie are probably going to sit this cycle out, which they presumably wouldn’t if Obama were that vulnerable. The polls pretty much back this up—there was a funny one from a few months ago showing that people liked a generic Republican candidate better than Obama, but they liked Obama better than any actual Republican candidate. The frontrunners for the nomination (Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich) are all pretty terrible as candidates.

To break it down one by one: Palin is popular with a certain kind of frothy-mouthed bloggy Republican who answers polling questions on Redstate, but she’s laughably unelectable in the country at large. Romney has the opposite problem: The base doesn’t like him any better than it did the last go-round, maybe because he’s a Mormon, maybe because he supported health care reform in Massachusetts. Newt—Jesus, do we need to consider him seriously now? If he came out of the primary, liberals would turn out to oppose him just as they would to oppose Sarah Palin.

Huckabee, well, Tom Jensen at left-leaning Public Policy Polling thinks that he’s the best GOP candidate. Huckabee has a fun name (although easily turned into “Fuckabee”), he’s an affable guy, he lost a bunch of weight and is committed to fighting obesity, he’s super Christian, he’s all about Zionism—pretty attractive to Republicans, all things considered. But when he ran for president four years ago, he got hosed everywhere except for Iowa and the South, and Chuck Norris isn’t going to help him when the aggressively ideological “values voters” and hard-line conservatives attack him. Already, Mike Pence (who?) polled better at something called the Values Voter Summit, and Ann Coulter called him a liberal for not wanting to kill and eat illegal immigrants. Can an election turn ugly before it even begins?

Just ignore any news coming out of this primary season, please. Even if I write something about it, don’t read it—find some articles about baseball instead, even if it’s only spring training. Or just watch YouTube footage of car accidents in slow motion or something. And if you live in New Hampshire or Iowa, I’d advise you to leave the state before the candidates descend on your state. This won’t be a media circus, it’ll be a months-long ten-way screaming match, with the winner inevitably covered in mud, blood, and allegations of homosexuality—and that candidate is probably going to go down in history as the next Bob Dole.
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Friday, January 7, 2011

The NCAA Sucks

I have a new post (new-ish, anyway) post on, if any readers are getting tired of joke posts and pop culture. Politics coming soon--the 2012 Presidential News Cycle is just beginning to spin! *Vomits blood* Read more!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Some Sucky Resolutions for 2011

You aren’t going to go to the gym, finish your novel, father a child, or meet your future husband. You will not legalize gay marriage nationwide, or go to space, or eat better. Your shaking, cold-sweat night terrors will not end in 2011, nor will your years of emotionally crippling loneliness. You won’t tell everyone what you really think. So here are some resolutions you will actually be able to keep:

Keep drinking. You know you’re going to keep drinking anyway, don’t torture yourself by walking back and forth in front of the liquor store in the cold trying to restrain yourself. Maybe just try not to black out so much this year?

Learn the difference between it’s and its, your and you’re, and there, their, and they’re.

Keep sending photos of your penis to coworkers who reject your clumsy advances. Who cares if that shit ends up on Deadspin? Someone is going to like what she sees, and then it’s party time for Brett, or whatever your name is.

Speaking of your penis, let’s make 2011 the year you finally come up with a clever name for it. For instance: The Pale King, Lil’ Abner (if your name is Abner), The Little Engine that Could, Yul Brynner (if you are circumcised), or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are all acceptable nicknames.

You know that girl who works in the next cubicle? The one who wears those red pants? Jesus, stop staring at her ass every time she walks by. It’s fucking creepy, and people are noticing. She’s young enough to be your daughter, you know.

No one wants to hear about your cats. Make a note of this.

Use your time in prison to hone your body and mind so when the parole board gives you time off for good behavior—thanks to your having been a model inmate, a pillar of the community, a baritone in the chapel choir—you will be an unstoppable killing machine.

Cultivate a fake British accent.

Quit masturbating in the bathroom during your coffee break. You’re going to get caught one of these days, and then what will you do? How are you going to explain that?

Spend less time following celebrity gossip, as your encyclopedic knowledge of Scarlett Johansson’s relationships and Megan Fox’s favorite clubs is disconcerting to people you meet at parties.

Let’s see if we can stop those abrupt fits of heavy weeping in public, shall we?

Tell your boss you need to be made Head Fry Cook, because you’ve been working here for six months now and Tom keeps calling in sick and everyone knows he has a drug problem and should get fired, and you could use the extra cash because you’re trying to get a place of your own for you and your kid, and maybe Amber if she’ll come back to you and dump that meathead Randy—anyway, you need to tell Jerry that if you don’t get that promotion and a raise, there are plenty of other kitsch-themed family restaurants that would love to have your grease-management skills.

Dress yourself in robes of linen and drink the blood of animals. The time of fire and tribulation is nigh! Read more!