Gentle readers, I will be taking the next four days to celebrate how much I love being a pinko commie pill-popping leftist stooge pearly pink pussy freakshow. See you all on Tuesday after I recharge my wits, and get back to writing needlessly profane and annoyingly contrarian prose on these pages. Go America, but mostly, Go Heels.
Some pics for our friends and kin:
Lucy on Brooklyn stoop
Steve lifts Marlena in Astoria Park
Polly and Lucy discuss Diplodocus etiquette on the way home from the Natural History museum
I hold Lucy for her first rainstorm in May 2005
I tell Lucy about her first rainstorm while sitting in the same chair, June 2011
heirloom tomato seedlings introduce themselves
Gramma Linda and Andrew sleep at the farm
Okay folks, git outta your summer doldrums!
What the hell are you doing this weekend?
Can somebody please tell me why this jerk is still on the Supreme Court? We always knew this self-loathing twit was certainly no legal genius, but the list of transgressions has gotten so long that the only honorable thing for him to do is resign, gather up his Tea Party wife, and park himself in Wyoming where he can no longer use his merciless legal briefings to torture the downtrodden Americans least able to fight back.
Of course, every attack on Clarence Thomas only makes him worse; he ingests criticism the way Voldemort slurps unicorn blood in the first "Harry Potter" novels. Right-wingers say that progressives have sour grapes because he's not like his predecessor, Thurgood Marshall. Even mentioning Marshall in the same sentence as Thomas sets the civil rights movement back five minutes, in my opinion, but that's not why I loathe Clarence Thomas. I despise him because he's a bully and a dick.
Whether his persecution complex started - or was merely solidified - by his now-obviously-perjurious testimony in the Anita Hill case, he hides behind judicial robes he's not fit to wear. He now says an attack on him is actually an attack on the Supreme Court itself, which shows a stupefying level of self-importance, and a fundamental disregard for how this country works.
I remember 20 years ago right now, sitting at the counter at Spanky's in Chapel Hill eating a burger, watching the confirmation hearings on the TV above the bar. I was thinking "Geez, that guy so obviously did it, but he's going to be confirmed anyway, and we might as well get used to it..."
Actually, I was 23, so I was probably really thinking "howmuchisthisburgergoingtocost-IwonderifDillonFenceisplayingtonight-jesusthatchickis hot-howthefuckamIgonnapayrent-IhopeEricMontrossrocks-jesusthatotherchickishot" but then eventually got to "we might as well get used to it and see what kind of Justice this Clarence Thomas cat is."
So he's had 20 years, and now we know. He's a terrible Justice. He is mean person. He is stunningly incurious. He's an ethical disaster. The Supreme Court has nine members out of an American population of 310 million. This is the best we can do?
On the plane to Vegas, Salem and I started talking about great TV episodes, and so I grabbed the barf bag and wrote down some of our favorites. I called the list Accidentally Great Episodes of TV That Appeared in Culture At Just the Right Time and the rules were as follows:
• no episodes that are clichéd "jump the shark" moments. The episode had to be a show that was firing on all cylinders before and after.
• no season finales. No trumped-up "Who Shot J.R." stuff inserted into the season-ender to make sure we came back in the fall.
• no series finales, which means, sadly, that the last M*A*S*H or Newhart don't count.
Love to hear yours, but in no particular order, here's what's written on our Spirit Airlines motion sickness bag:
1. E.R. - Hell and High Water... I remember watching this with Scotty at the Pink House in late 1995, and it was the episode where Doug Ross (George Clooney) saved the kid in the storm drain. It was in the middle of the second season, and it was so goddamn heroic and fucking awesome that Scotty and I just had to laugh at each other when it was over. Although it took him a while to find his footing, I always felt like Clooney was a real star from this day forward.
2. The Simpsons - The Crepes of Wrath... By this point in April 1990, The Simpsons were absolutely taking over everyone in college who owned a television. It wasn't just required watching, it became instant canon. This episode featured Bart being shipped off to France as an exchange student after putting a cherry bomb in the school toilet - where he not only has to drink anti-freeze-laced wine, he blows our minds by bicycling through the paintings Bassin aux nymphéas by Monet and Van Gogh's Wheatfield with Crows. These days such inventiveness and absurdity has ruled Adult Swim for years, but back then, it was nothing short of a cultural revelation.
3. Good Times - The Big Move, Part 2... This was the second episode in the fourth season. The father and patriarch, John Amos, has died - and Florida (Esther Rolle) has simply carried on, refusing to believe it. At the end of the episode, she is doing busywork in the kitchen, and out of nowhere, breaks down... well, you just have to see it:
4. Glee - Preggers... I'll always have to cop to disclaimers with "Glee", but this episode showed it could do more than treacle and lip-sync their way through the pop catalog, culminating with Kurt (Chris Colfer) coming out to his football-lovin', car mechanic dad. Kurt's return to school this season, featuring an entire act break that was nothing but his "As If We Never Said Goodbye" fever dream, was probably better, but fans of the show know how wonderful this early coming-out moment was.
5. The Sopranos - Whoever Did This... Ralphie's (Joe Pantoliano) head in a bowling bag. I am pretty much instantly sickened by any sort of dismemberment, but this episode in the middle of Season 4 was just horrifically incredible.
6. Battlestar Galactica - Exodus, Part II... Hard to believe this was the fourth episode in the third season. Even explaining it sounds insane to those who haven't immersed themselves in the short, mind-blowing run of BSG, but it's the one where the Galactica and Pegasus ships make a suicide run to save all the people stuck on the gray, murderous New Caprica planet. As intense, edge-of-seat crazy as scenes from "Aliens" and "Blade Runner".
7. What's Happening!! - Doobie or Not Doobie... It's impossible to explain to any kidfolk these days how goddamn HUGE the show "What's Happening!!" and fat boy Rerun was for about two years in the late '70s. But this episode featured the Doobie Brothers (also kicking major bell-bottomed ass at the time) and remains enshrined in our brains forever. Plus, it taught us all a valuable lesson in illegal bootlegging (although I think the whole two-part episode was just an excuse for Rerun to sidle up to Michael McDonald to ask "Which Doobie you be?")
Others we thought of: the "Turkeys Away" episode of WKRP; Very Special Episodes about Drugs on "Family Ties" and "Facts of Life"; the Hindenberg crashes in front of John-Boy on "The Waltons"; some juicy "West Wing" episodes while Bush II destroyed America in real-life; Angela/Jordan on "My So-Called Life"; and certain picks from Season 2 of "24", "Alias" and "Welcome Back Kotter".
But the flight to Vegas was short - y'all got any more?
As if it weren't obvious, or as if anybody cared, I'm in the wild woods of upstate New York, planting a small orchard of fruit trees by our barn, watching our daughter dance around the farmhouse, and finishing a script due already. I feel untethered, unfocused, and unburdened by needing to be an active participant in the world.
There is a lot of work involved in just keeping up. I remember when I was a junior in college, still a virgin, and somebody mentioned their first time having sex. "Well," he said, "I was eighteen, and you're eventually going to find yourself having sex by then." All I could think was, "actually, it's pretty easy not to have sex."
Likewise, on a slightly larger scale, it's pretty easy not to be on any sort of radar; you need to keep up appearances, do the little things, or else you will simply fade away. Tessa explained a party trick - never say goodbye to the host, because slipping out unnoticed gives you credit for about an hour longer than you actually stayed.
I think of these two girls I knew at Carolina, both with brown hair, one taller than the other, very pretty, always hanging out together. One or both may have been a transfer, but I'm not sure. Our fifth year, in 1990, Salem and I hung out with them every few days. They came to every party early, stayed late, and we always loved their company. They'd bring movies over on a random weeknight.
I never said goodbye to them at the end of the year, always figuring I'd just see them around, in the happenstance serendipity we used to guide our social lives. But I never did, and they slipped away, and by the time they popped back into my head, it had been years since I'd seen them, and their names had been replaced by mountains of other data.
In the days before Facebook, this kind of thing happened all the time - the only difference in this case is that I remember that I forgot them. I've reestablished many old connections with the social media we've got now, from my first boyhood crush in London to an anonymous kiss onstage to old nemeses who've become trusted confidantes. But there are still lost friends, visible to me only in the wispy cirrus clouds of memory, small ghosts who haunt little thoughts like a forgotten word.
Some fancies come when you call them, and others require silence rewarded with sudden apparition. Not everything needs to be conjured. Sometimes you drop your book of spells on purpose.
With the 4th of July coming up, I'm writing a blog letter to my possible grandchildren about the "state of America" right now. Yes, I know that's eye-rollingly presumptive, but is there anything you'd like to add?
my mom's grandparents John and Pearl, circa 1911
As suspected, I caught a lot of grief from my blog of yore about men being intrinsically soulless until acted upon by a female force (my First Law of ThermoSexualDynamics), although these days most of my detractors come via personal message on Facebook. Let me apologize in advance for not always taking the mantle thrown at me via FB; I loathe Facebook's email interface, and besides, why does everything have to take place on goddamn Facebook, anyway?
I've been asked to either say something specific or say nothing at all about the nature of "manhood", and since it's not in my DNA to "say nothing at all", I'll go ahead and try to make bullet points (option-8 on your keyboard!) I'll make the same disclaimers as always - I cannot say that I am the master of any of the following three codicils.
In my estimation, you cannot truly be a worthy man until...
• you learn self-germinated restraint. By this I mean boundaries that you give yourself based on your intrinsic character - not because you've got your mother, your girlfriend, your wife, the cops, the government, or some external force lording consequences over you.
Here's the thing about guys that pretty much nobody realizes: if you give them an inch, they will take the whole inch, and then look at you like a confused dog when you're upset they went ahead and took that inch. Men are water; they seek their own level, they spread out their limbs until they meet some buttressing force that gives them something to lean on.
Most men look at "chances not taken" as bizarrely wasteful and unnatural, which is commendable in business and the arts, but not kosher if you're a sexting Congressman. Stopping yourself from doing something you KNOW you'll get away with is one of the most difficult actions a male can muster. George Mallory may have climbed Everest because it was there, but that's no excuse for fucking the babysitter.
• you realize you aren't going to live forever. I've fiddled this tune before - and credit 9/11 for giving me the perspective to start a family - but all men need to have that dire, existential crisis of their own mortality where they see their own death as not only possible, but probable. They must come to terms with it, and this means NOT staving it off by hooking up with a 21-year-old and going on an ecstasy bender.
They must accept a certain healthy, benign nihilism and get back to enjoying the amazing life they were building when they were so rudely interrupted by the loss of their ego.
• you have completely sowed your oats. This goes for both genders. If there's anything I have seen as a constant truism in life it is this: if you do not sow your wild oats at some point, they will eventually sow you. The takeaway from Dr. Richard Lucas' PSYC 28 class at Carolina - perhaps one of the top 5 classes ever offered since 1793 - was "be crazy now so you're not crazy later."
People who marry early, people who bloom late, people who never had that crazy five years of dating, the travel, the job-hopping, the wanton lust of fucking for fuck's sake... the seed of regret blooms until it is a lump in the throat too big to ignore. If you are a guy or a girl who never had at least a few years to howl at the moon, you are a guy or a girl who is probably going to leave your marriage.
Okay, so you are intrinsically well-adjusted and never needed any of that. You never needed to see the world, you've always had a healthy sense of your own limitations, and you've always done right for doing right's sake. I applaud you, sir. This bucket of broad-brush generalizations is obviously for someone else.
It just having been Father's Day, I am going to abdicate today's entry to a code word question... dads, anonymously (or not) say the thing you most dislike about fatherhood, without fear of reprisal!
Okay, so I'm packing for the summer and getting the house straight, so no regular blog today, but... BUT... if you're willing to put up with some sub-par video and really crappy sound, I'll go ahead and embed our Livestream video from the show last night at the Viper Room.
I will do so with the following disclaimers:
• it sounded much better in person. The vocals especially. Indistinguishable from this video, in fact. Ask anyone! Ask Tessa, she never lies.
• my mike worked in performance, but apparently not on the video until about 11:44, for the song "Iowa".
• I need to work on my stage presence. Probably because I make my bass parts too hard, which means I need to concentrate on that.
• the video guy tends to zoom in on people at random.
So, for all 2 of you who might watch this (hi Mom!) (oh wait, she probably won't either), here 'tis!
Just a laundry list of a few things today, minding p's, dotting q's, and crossing all my i's. By the way, I've never known why they call it a "laundry list" when "doing laundry" is really only one thing. Unless you're writing down each dirty item.
Wait, did that just sound like a lame stand-up routine from the mid-90s? Let's move on:
1. I'm playing the Viper Room tonight. This is a "secret" show for us, as we're attempting an entirely new set list of never-before-heard songs, but since hardly any of you live within two thousand miles of here, I'll go ahead and show the flyer:
We have a few songs that are guaranteed to rock your sock suspenders, so if the show goes well, I'll post a link to the video tomorrow. By the way, we are no longer The Strike because of some dudes in Wales. We are now Owlstrike.
You know, because owls are inherently funny and awesome.
2. We're coming back to New York on Friday for a stretch of the summer. Sure, we might fly back for big meetings (because we hate the environment and we hate your freedoms) but I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to be back on my home coast once more. If anything fun is happening in NYC this weekend I WANT TO COME.
3. You all should read my dear friend Heike's blog. Like me, she has used the internet to expunge her demons and talk about depression and anti-depressants, but her honesty can be much more intense, since I tend to dress up my misery with a lot of sarcasm, Morrissey quotes and spelling-bee words. Heike is completely awesome.
Heike in NY, early '00s
4. While you're at it, you simply must read Annie's entry about her friend Kimo. Annie's a stunning writer and her whole blog is worth digesting, but her paean to a dying friend is sweet, lachrymose and affirming.
Annie reads to the Lulubeans, Feb 2009
5. Okay, back to the mines.
I've been doing a little research lately, and I need y'all's - yes, y'all's - help to find the answer to this question:
What public figure in the last 40 years began, endured and finished his/her career as an inspiration to millions of people WITHOUT any scandals or revelations tarnishing their image?
You know the usual suspects... most of your sports heroes either beat their wives, said something racist, or was obviously using drugs. Your political heroes inevitably can't keep it in their pants. Your favorite actors show themselves to be morons or assholes.
JFK had Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jordan gambled and cheated on his wife, Woody Allen did what he did, so did Tiger, so did most heroes. But some did not.
Who would you include on your list of untarnished heroes of the last 40 years?
mine includes this man, assistant coach of the 1959 UNC Tar Heel Basketball Team, Dean Edwards Smith
Quick update from Salem here:
Ian was a gentleman and "no" means "no". Also worth noting, Sir Paul was amazing and Ian held true to his aforementioned tenants of Vegas play. He reclaimed his "bank" after a short turn of lousy cards, won it back with a modest profit and retired for the evening. It took me a few extra hours.
Salem pulled an all-nighter. He said he was going to "go next door" to check out the adjoining casino to the Venetian, and my tummy hurt, so I went to bed. The next time I was conscious, it was 6:45am and Salem was just getting back from six different casinos, having come out ahead. If I'd known he was going to all-night it, I would have started training last week and joined him.
Oh, and I little bonus video for you all:
Ian and Salem were both released the same fortnight as Sgt. Pepper
My wife, who is one of the best human beings on the planet, gave me the best birthday present I have ever received, other than the red Huffy with a banana seat I got when I was nine. She knows full well how much the Beatles make up my spiritual DNA, and last year I let slip that I've never seen a Beatle in person.
So she surprised me with tickets to see Paul McCartney on the last stop of his world tour, the only date he's playing in the United States, tonight (Friday) in Las Vegas. I will not say I didn't weep a little. To make it even better, my buddy Salem is flying from Charlotte to Las Vegas to be my date to the concert, and since my wife won't be there, looks like I'll be making sweet, sweet love to Salem at The Venetian.
Everyone has their "Official Way to Do Vegas", but I will give you mine, since we end up there a lot. Vegas is on the ol' Mormon Trail between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles (meaning I've done the drive 5,337 times) and I had to develop a strategy in order to have fun there without leaving every time in paroxysms of chelated misery.
I'm not suggesting you do this. I'm not even suggesting I do this. But it has worked 7 out of the last 8 visits:
• Don't Be A Schlub. For the last few years, I have dressed up every time I've gambled. Not a top hat or anything, but a nice suit or blazer, and occasionally a tie. Something about paying your respect to the process allows you to make better decisions, and besides - aren't there enough morons in cutoff jean shorts and "YEP, I FARTED" T-shirts?
Is it a pain in the ass? Sorta. Is Vegas unbearably hot in the summer? Of course. But some things are worth a little more effort; not everything has to be muffin-top informal in life.
• If You Play Craps, You Should Do That. I have friends who are amazing at craps, and I like to watch them. I've actually seen hours and hours of it, and still have no idea how 75% of it works. Maybe I should get it for the Wii. Until then...
• Warm Up With Video Poker. Find a machine you like, and exercise your wagering muscles with "Jacks or Better" or something similar. $60 is more than enough to spend there, and you're likely to get $40 back.
• Blackjack Is Excellent. Do not go to any table higher than $25 a hand unless you are wealthy, drunk, or batshit insane. Personally, I like the $10 tables, but they're hard to find after 10pm. If your luck starts to turn, LEAVE. Don't play through it.
• Make Your Goal and Fucking Stop. This is absolutely the most important point. I always make enough money to pay our hotel bill - or at least the room portion of it - and then I stop. I have no interest in going further. If I was on the hottest streak ever seen, and women with large nortons started holding my arm, cooing in my ear... I would still stop, go upstairs and order guacamole.
This is because I'm not an addict. I also believe that the thrill of seeing just what the next card might be is worth a specific amount of money - say $200-$300 dollars - and I'm happy to take that chance twice a year or so.
I'm sure all of you have your own charms, peccadilloes and routines, and I'd love to hear them - but I can say this about mine: I never go home angry, and for those of you who've played basketball with me, that's an accomplishment.
What follows is my family's emails about the Anthony Weiner scandal. I've given everyone a different color, but don't worry, you won't be quizzed. This is as much for the topic as it is for posterity - I think it'll be interesting to see how families communicated via email, if anyone happens to see this forty years from now. Here y'go:
Linda (Mom) wrote:
I know it's fun to play internet games, (and I'm sure it's a thrill to get a blow job in the Oval office). Or fly to Argentina to see your honey, leaving your wife at home. Or even troll for sex in an airport bathroom. Except for the oval office thing, which I found tacky, I don't even care about that stuff.
What bums me out is when a really good legislator or leader destroys their career with a move so stupid and puerile that it takes them out of the game. OK, you say, Clinton survived. But instead of a great presidency he had a good presidency marred by the whole ugly (in every sense) Lewinski mess.
I just feel like it's a great loss and not even a "tragedy." Dirty pictures on Twitter? It's comedy. But it probably means we lost one of the good guys, and that IS a tragedy. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
It was stupid, but only because it's difficult to understand. He did what? He twittered a digipix of his wangage to a broad in Spokane? Or something? The whole thing is like someone coming out and saying, "I've spent the last year filling my shoes with pancake batter because I find it sexually gratifying. This shows a total lack of good decision making on my part, and I apologize." It's like... What? It *sounds* like something gross, but I don't think I understand what it even *is*.
You can get the playboy channel on XM/Sirius. Every time I pay my bill, they ask me if I want it, and I finally said, "I'm sorry, how does one *use* this channel? This is audio pornography for me, WHILE I DRIVE?.... To what end, exactly?" The poor woman on the other end of the line didn't know how to answer. Everyone likes getting boners, and we're still figuring out the best ways to play with ourselves, and none of us really knows what we're doing. Sending camera pictures of your panties via twitter is just... It sounds "wrong", but mostly it just doesn't make any damn sense at all.
That's why they call it a peccadillo.
I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure 100% of human beings do things in private that they'd be ashamed to have found out by the people close to them. Family, constituents, whatever.
Compared to closeted politicians railing against gay rights, this seems pretty tame. Or actually, like, being in the same state with a woman not your wife. Or taking money under the table.
Politicians are human, but they must pretend to be perfect. They are, by definition, more narcissistic than most, so they can handle more cognitive dissonance than you or me.
When we turn on the TV and see someone smart, well-spoken, on the right side of the issues, we think, "paragon." We have to really work to remember that everyone is human. The only question is how ugly are their secrets.
The Internet still doesn't feel like real life to most people. So they do things they wouldn't do in real life. It's also instantaneous, so it's bad when you've downed 3 scotches and you're alone in a DC apartment at 3 AM.
That being said, it displays a stunning lack of judgement on Weiner's part. Apparently people do send pictures of their naughty bits to either, but even at my most libidinous and inappropriate, I'm like, ew?
On the other hand, he sent pics of his underpants to a woman he never met over the Internet. George W Bush bankrupted the country and started two disastrous wars. It's important to maintain perspective.
Linda (Mom) replied:
I really dislike the "Yahbut" responses to this, on our emails, in the media, overheard in the Deli... whatever. "Yah, but women are unfaithful, too." "Yah, but Bush and Hitler and Bin Laden did worse things." "Yah, but Clinton was worse, He..." "Yah, but we all have secrets..." of course. But all that is irrelevant to why I'm so bummed about this.
It's the entitlement, the lack of impulse control, the succumbing to male adolescent peacock behavior, the lack of awareness of how this could play out. Here's a guy who was, in spite of his cocky (no pun intended), sarcastic, firebrand ways was one of my great hopes for the future of democracy. He wasn't afraid to call the republicans "shameful" when they cast shameful votes. He wasn't afraid to stand up and tell some rude conservative to shut up and stop interrupting him.
Yes, the internet is seductive in its anonymity. Yes women are not perfect, though they really are not, as a group, prone to the kind of unevolved sexuality issues most men are. Yes, Hitler was worse. Yes, Dr. House, everybody lies.
But in addition to so many of them being addled by their every-eight-seconds contemplation of their cock, men hate to be wrong, hate to not be in charge, hate to admit any weakness. And it's too bad. When they do rise (god, the puns) to the occasion, tell the truth and move on, like (as Sean pointed out today) Letterman did, it becomes a non-story n about ten minutes.
In short, I am out of patience with the "but X did a worse thing" way of thinking about it. Even though I know it's true. Nothing about this inappropriate Wiener stuff approaches the sins of Dick Cheney, the heinous crimes of Pol Pot, even the self-destructive insanity of a Charlie Sheen.
Because there was so much promise, I'm really bummed.
Anthony Weiner can go and sin no more, as it were. A sadder, wiser, and more embarrassed person. George W Bush & Dick Cheney committed unforgivable sins and feel completely justified and unrepentant for doing them. Furthermore Andrew Breitbart is a scumbag.
I think there is a hierarchy of transgressions, and Weiner's is forgivable. It's annoying when someone who you respect fucks up in such an avoidable and ridiculous way, but think of all the people like Weiner whose private idiocies you don't know about. You have to be willing to give people some slack for their sad, icky humanity, or you'll be disappointed in everyone and everything all the time.
I would just like to state for the record that I think Wiener's actions don't even merit the level of "mistake". I don't even think what he did was bad.
We're gonna get to a point where our inner most thoughts are gonna be recorded, and it will be the most liberating thing that ever happened. People are so much more disgusting and base than we can currently admit, all you have to do is think back to your worst moment, your lowest moment, and then realize that almost nobody is any worse than you, they might just have those moments slightly more frequently. We are also more beautiful and noble than has ever been expressed, and that'll be nice to see as well.
The worst thing you've ever seen, the worst thing you've ever imagined, the worst thought you've ever had, they've all been had by other people, and if their impulse control is 2% worse than ours, they end up spending twenty years in prison. Steve and I were talking about the pornspambots that follow us on Twitter, and if I were 5% less knowledgeable, and someone sent me a tweet of their 26 year old chest in a tank top with the message "I feel like my boobs have gotten ridiculous", then I might be tempted to tweet back a picture of my chest and say, "My chest is *awesome*."
And it wouldn't occur to me that I was cheating on my wife, it would just be a silly thing I did on the internet. I don't do it because I know the internet, I am terrified of screwing up my marriage (which is NOT the same thing as fidelity, by the way, it just has the same outcome) and I have a particular distaste for Paying For Nudity. But that's just me.
(Also, the women cheating twice as much as men is something I read about ten years ago, but it could have been specious for all I know. I've held on to it as a lovely concept, as a myth-buster when it comes to the inequality of the sexes, and I might be able to find my source for it, but I haven't done it yet and I might not until I get some extra time. So, I actually should probably never say it again unless I can back it up.)
I hear you. It has always driven me crazy that most great men in American history have demonstrated sucky judgment when it comes to their sexual conduct.
And there's no evidence that women are behaving this way in equal proportion. Sadly, we have had so few women in leadership but even accounting for discrepancy, in a list of 53 political sex scandals, there was one female, which would equal about 2% of the list. Whereas women account for roughly 18% of elected officials in the US. Unlike my husband, I don't think women are superior. Women suck in all kinds of different ways. But they don't seem to do this.
There are all sorts of conjectures about why this is true... It points up some central differences in sexuality and in executive function, but it also reminds me how - in American culture - women are nowhere to be found. That 18% of elected offices are held by women is appalling. The US trails Rwanda, Costa Rica, Nepal, Macedonia - and the list goes on - in female elected officials.
And, Kent, I think it's a false equivalency to compare Wiener to Bush/Cheney. I mean, that's not really the discussion here. It's just sad to see people with potential behave in pathetic, puerile ways, particularly as it relates to sexuality.
i wonder if it's specifically about a general profile for women who seek power versus men who seek power, as opposed to a general profile for men versus women.
Wiener has a pattern of this sort of thing, which is what your mom is responding to, I think. Mistakes are mistakes, sad compulsions are another thing. (Irrespective of Sean's statement that it doesn't rate as a mistake, I think it's fair to acknowledge that it has certainly will be viewed as a mistake in his career). And I also think our modern digital age makes it more transparent but no less disheartening.
I feel like everyone keeps telling Linda to get over it because people are people. But I really hope everyone in this conversation is doing our best to be better than our basest impulses. And when we see someone that we otherwise admire succumbing to those impulses, it's a bummer.
I'm just saying, for me, there's nothing wrong with sending a picture of your junk to some girl who's sending pictures of her junk to you. It is a *mistake*, because sending your junk over Twitter hasn't been going on for centuries and he's in the public eye, but the act itself isn't immoral.
If he was flirting ridiculously with these women in person, but never laid a hand on them (and all signs point to the fact that Wiener never even MET these women in person) then we would shrug it off - because that HAS been happening for eons.
I don't think there's anything inherently *wrong* with what he did, except for the fact that he lied about it. And that I think is terribly wrong. In the same way that I don't think there's anything wrong with consensual anal sex among adult males, but lying about it actually hurts those who *don't* lie about it.
Please, please, I beg everyone here to know that I have the most boring predictable sexual appetite imaginable. But there are people getting peed on and tying each other up and having rape fantasies and schoolgirl uniforms and leather daddies and cutters and straight up regular folk doing it missionary, and all of that is the span of the human imagination.
The very basic stuff does it for me, but that's because I'm a natural enthusiast, I tend to find profundity in stuff that other people aren't all that impressed with. Some people are far more complicated, and I don't begrudge them their appetites.
But lying about it *is* the issue. I don't think anyone is saying that sending pictures of yourself to someone else is inherently immoral. It's maybe a little sad but, really, it hardly rates. If he and his wife had an agreement that this was how he conducted his affairs, and it was no one's business, so be it. The whole thing would have been an odd footnote. "Yep, I sent picture to that chick, and my wife is fine with it. I represent New York, remember, so fuck off."
But, according to his own statement, he revealed his predilection for internet liaisons to his wife before they were married. Presumably, he mea culpa'd, swore off the bad habit, and committed to traditional heterosexual monogamous conduct. And then he slipped back into his sad little habit. Irrespective of how accepting we might be of anyone's proclivities, this is stupid. As a married man, it's stupid. As a public figure, it's stupid. As a 46-year-old tweeting a 21-year-old, it's stupid.
You trade in some of your rights to privacy when you opt to become a public figure, even from a legal perspective. This was a behavior that he knew, as a politician, had potentially negative consequences for his future and his family, and he did it anyway. That's not immoral. That's just sad. So, his inability to control those impulses is disappointing to people who had hopes he might be more interesting than that.
Also, I think Linda is reacting to the tiresome history of men in power acting like idiots when it comes to sex. And, again, I don't think women are better. We're idiots too but on this particular subject, men suck worse. It's just endless. It's like movies with Tom Cruise in them. They just keep coming.
I don't disagree with anything you're saying here, and I'd hate for there to be a united voices of Linda's Sons™ saying "Well, boys will be boys, no point in being disappointed" and mom, I'm sorry if it's coming across like that. I just think it sucks that he lied about it, and I guess that he felt like he had to lie about it.
The sad thing in my mind is that he admitted to his wife BEFORE this all happened, and then he got sucked back in. It reminds me of how long it took me to quit smoking.
And I would also like to say how grateful I am to be a bit older and no longer in the hold of my libido. Things really have calmed down in my brain in the last few years, and it has been an enormous relief. I hated how much of my day was driven by sex, how much of every single action involved some aspect of getting laid, and to have bigger fish to fry is a wonderful feeling.
I'm not disappointed in "Linda's Sons, etc." at all. I agree that what he did was sad, not illegal, not even horrible in and of itself. But if I were his wife, I'd be a) more than sad that he couldn't keep out of this particular quicksand and b) scared shitless that another shoe is going to drop.
And I agree with Tessa that there are, speaking in broad strokes here, a lot, probably an equal number, of negative (for want of a better word) female proclivities. I could name a dozen without even thinking hard. Start with women, as a group, having a hard time "getting over it"-- getting over slights, getting over betrayals, getting over not making Miss America.
Men, bless them, tend to blow up, have it out, and move on. That sort of thing. But this obsession with the genitalia, with sex, is not one women share in the same way or nearly to the same extent as men do.
I'm just sayin'. And I'm sayin' too much. I really started a firestorm. But it's been great to get everyone's take on it.
And I'll do my best to "get over it."
various members of above conversation, Xmas '10
There's something I say, perhaps every week or so, and it always gets me in trouble. I'm always accused of painting with a broad brush, or being an intellectual featherweight, or engaging in asinine gender politics. It ruins conversations, and it makes my wife roll her eyes, but it's the one moronic truism that has only become more obvious as I've aged, and it is this: GUYS SUCK.
I have been called out for making similar claims on this very blog, but the truth hurts: we are made of acid, brittle stucco and cheap frosting. We never ask for directions, because our moral compass is always pointing at our cock. God created Eve because he got a good look at Adam and said, "fuck, I know I can do better than that."
Are you a happy, well-adjusted, loving, loyal guy? Congratulations. You accidentally ended up being worthwhile, but probably have no concept of how you got there. Don't worry, I don't either. When I look back upon my twenties and early thirties, I see a guy chasing skirt and believing the world owed him something, and then suddenly I got scared enough of solitude to contemplate marriage. Since then, I've learned the finer points of being a real human being from the chick I live with, and our daughter gives me a reason to attempt heroism.
Women are born with the ability to fathom true, non-crazy love - men are born with giant testicles. Seriously, have you ever seen the nuts on baby boys? The rest of the body is incidental.
I know this all makes me self-loathing, or misandrist, or that I have all kinds of unresolved daddy issues, but my take is pretty phlegmatic. I'm not railing against men, I'm just stating a general observation, the way a stegosaurus would look at his fellow stegosauri and say, "jesus, our heads are really fuckin' small, aren't they?"
Earlier today, my mom wrote to the family:
This whole Anthony Wiener thing has really ruined my dinner... What is it with these guys? OK, men in the family, tell me why so many men do things that are SO STUPID?
Great question. Why would a married man - who could easily be mayor of New York City, and was one of the most firebrand, outspoken progressives in Congress - send woefully inappropriate pictures to female admirers on Twitter? PICTURES on TWITTER. Photographs of your vaguely-erect schlong, uploaded BY YOU to your Twitter account and sent to somebody you barely know.
Worse yet, he didn't even have sex, and the pictures weren't even nude, and he didn't even need to lie - but there he was, leaving the press conference with his head bowed in utter boyhood shame. Why'd he do it? Why did John Edwards do it? Why did Mark Foley, Larry Craig, David Vitter, Eliot Spitzer and Bill Clinton do it?
I love my male friends, and I love many of you guys reading this. I love my brothers and my nephews and my male cousins. But we are all compelled to become decent men through some outside intrusion; some figure must take pity on us, bring us on as a project, and we flourish under their tutelage.
If we're never interrupted, or we miss a few crucial lessons, please... don't spend time psychoanalyzing us or breathlessly repeating the idea that men in positions of power are inexorably obliged to spread their semen around. Don't ask why we do such mind-bendingly stupid things, or why we make such self-destructive choices. We are simply guys, and, well, we suck.
Okay, why is my computer suddenly shutting off like it is being hit with an electromagnetic pulse? I can't write a blog today while this is happening.
And why do I keep running into things with my right shin? And why is there both a metric system AND an English system for measurements and Allen wrenches, and why do the English use the metric system? But really, why do all these homosexuals keep sucking my cock?
Back tomorrow when I can fix all this.
After five years of suffering through debilitating fatigue, muscle pain and severe balance issues, my dad - who'd seen every doctor from the Bay Area to the Mayo Clinic - finally had an answer: he has chronic, tertiary, long-term Lyme Disease. Sitting down to research Lyme, I immediately understood it to reside in this part of the world:
Yes, that is the original copper globe that has the phrase "HC SVNT DRACONES", or "here be dragons". Also to be found on that vast savannah is chronic-fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, XMRV and a host of other beasts that guarantee two things: a lot of human suffering, and a lot of other people telling them it's all in their heads. These are the crazy diseases that inevitably become political, with patients crying out for a cure, scientists finding no disease, and government taking sides.
In sober moments, you can see both sides of the tale. Take my dad, a formerly more-than-healthy, robust symphony conductor destined to live (like all conductors with their upper-body aerobics) into ripe old age. Then, without much warning, take away his ability to balance long enough to cross the room, and then put him in bed for two days for expending the energy to rake leaves. He tests positive for Lyme Disease, and the symptoms match. The treatment? Broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Now take a bunch of doctors, who have tested the efficacy of antibiotics on long-term Lyme sufferers, and can't reach consensus. And who's to say it's actually Lyme? It could be the combination of 17 other things nobody has tested for. And just because someone wants a Rocephin/Cipro/Doxycycline smoothie, doesn't mean they can have one. Besides, didn't tests show that the auto-immune effects of Lyme Disease continue to plague patients long after the original bacteria has been killed?
There have been reports that antibiotics can put a real dent in this thing, and for my dad's sake, I hope so. Perhaps some of you have suffered from a phantom disease as well, and know the profound, heartbreaking relief of somebody telling you "this is real, and this is how we're going to fix it."
I dunno, we can deal with vagueness and uncertainty well enough in other aspects of our lives - hell, the mere act of talk therapy and anti-depressants amounts to nothing more than a crapshoot, and in most cases, it's close enough for jazz. But when you've got something that adversely affects your day-to-day life, and many professionals aren't even sure your affliction exists, you aren't just in the land of dragons, I'd say you're not far from Hell.