CONTEXT: On February 5, 2011, David Shields and I spoofed jocks in The Nervous Breakdown. Less than two months later I wrote an article at TNB about a dubious competition run by a Seattle sports radio station, KJR. Then I sent a link of the article to KJR, and they responded. This is the next chapter: 

According to Forbes Magazine, Seattle is the most miserable sports town in the United States. As a Northwest native and long suffering fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and the now departed Sonics, I cannot disagree.  Our bad teams are complemented by Seattle sportscasters with Moobs (Manboobs) and Seattle whiner-fans griping about East Coast Bias. Yet I never have minded being the underdog. Unfortunately, the Seattle sports scene has deeper problems. As a father of three daughters, and a lifelong sports junkie, I’m having a mid-life crisis.

THE JOSH LUEKE “RAPE”: In May of 2008 two baseball players on a Texas Rangers farm team met a woman at a bar and took her home. The woman, unidentified, promptly threw up and passed out in their apartment.  She woke partially clothed and physically violated, and went to the authorities. The results: DNA from her jeans, tank top, hair, and semen on an anal swab matched one of the athletes, Josh Lueke. He was arrested, charged with rape, but eventually pleaded guilty of a lesser felony, the obscure False imprisonment with violence. He emerged relatively unscathed, his career intact.

Last summer the Seattle Mariners traded for Lueke, and he is now on the big league club. His presence makes the transgressions of other Mariners tame (one has battled domestic violence accusations and another shoved last year’s manager). I’ve had it. This year I will not listen or watch Mariners games, and if the team does not get rid of the scum, I will not watch next year or ever. Our family will now enjoy baseball games played by the Everett AquaSox.

THE MORAL PLACEBO: Okay, I’m boycotting the Mariners. So friggin’ what? Sex crimes happen across the spectrum of society. Every city has their scandal. Pittsburgh Steeler Ben Roethlisber has similar trouble, but this just gives me one more reason to hate the Steelers. It’s true there are two sides. Gold diggers like Karen Sypher, who was sentenced to 7+ years for extortion after an affair with Kentucky coach Rick Pitino, are an element, but her egregious actions in no ways justify a defense of the creeps.

So what’s a moral placebo? A “moral placebo” is when an individual makes a pledge or action on ethical grounds, yet the main beneficiary is the individual: he or she feels better about him or herself. Examples: Swearing not to drive an SUV; praying really, really hard for the well-being of starving children in underdeveloped countries; or boasting about how your eight million-dollar mansion “saves” energy because it has solar panels, even though you consume twenty times more energy than the average citizen. Yes. Words and action have a relationship (perhaps the person praying will actually send money or volunteer), but without action these stands are useless. Call me cynical, but brandishing a candle against the proverbial darkness often comes off as bullshit.

Nevertheless, I brandish, I spout, and thus I’d like to add a few words about my other “moral placebo,” a boycott of KJR Sports 950 and their sponsors. My previous TNB post took on KJR’s Mitch “Dork in the Morning” Levy and The Bigger Dance. I sent a post of this article to KJR, and soon after a few members of the KJR Society for the Legalization of Date-Rape responded. One KJR DJ took the time to engage me and defend his right to objectify women.

EXCHANGE BETWEEN KJR DJ & MYSELF:

Caleb Powell: KJR supporters have revealed themselves in the “Comments” section.

KJR DJ: Wow. Nice to see such an intellect using the proper narrow brush.

(He pasted from my interview with David Shields)

Powell: Angelina Jolie or Katherine Zeta-Jones?

Shields: Uhhhh…Angelina Jolie or hmmm…I would say Katherine Zeta-Jones.

Powell: Beyoncé or Britney?

Shields: Uh…I must admit…Britney.

I think it’s the consistency in your point of view that I find so refreshing. By the way it’s “Catherine” with a C.

CP: It’s a Spoof on Barkley. Thanks for the ‘C’ tip. Didn’t you notice the intro: “Using questions often directed at jocks, specifically Charles Barkley, we did a quick Q&A…”

KJR DJ: Ohhhhhh. I see. When YOU do it it’s a spoof. Got it.

CP: Didn’t know the Dance was a spoof.

KJR DJ: So you think we take it seriously? Honestly…it seems wildly hypocritical of you to ask David Shields what you asked him and then trash us and our listeners for what is in fact a harmless little contest. Then you play your deal off as a spoof but still want to take ours seriously.

If you don’t like the contest then there’s an easy way to deal with it. Don’t pay attention to it. But don’t demand that every other person has to see things your way…or that one or two people who respond to your post are suddenly representative of the entire listening audience of KJR.

CP: Representative? Even one KJR fan thinking like that should make you worry. “Wildly hypocritical?” That’s hyperbole. My piece with Shields ridiculed the “dumb jock.” “Harmless little contest?” Bullshit. You and KJR take it seriously. The contest is not a spoof, it’s a cash cow for KJR; sure, to you it’s fun and for the most part harmless, but it objectifies women. That’s a problem. Men that objectify women are more likely to be violent. There is a direct correlation, the evidence is there, and yes, I’m giving you a conclusion, but the studies behind it are complex and cogent.

And even though, for the most part it’s harmless and most guys that get off on the Dance are okay, enough of them are “date-rapes waiting to happen.” Those comments here at The Nervous Breakdown are frightening, aren’t they? You want those guys dating someone you care about? Hey, I don’t know if you have a daughter or a sister, but would you want any woman to have to deal with men that think objectifying women is “harmless?” It’s not.

KJR DJ: And it’s pretty damned convienient that YOU do this and claim you were just ridiculing the dumb jock. But we’re doing it and we’re equated to rapers (sic) and murderers. THAT my friend is bullshit. Tell yourself anything you want.

CP: You’re not rapists, but rapists feed off your schtick.

KJR DJ: But no rapist read your interview with David, right?

CP: What? Another non-sequitor?

That’s it. KJR DJ at least thought about the issues, yet his argument was hampered by a rudimentary use of rhetorical modifiers and his inability to understand irony. He chose to remain anonymous. I don’t listen to KJR, and though I’m boycotting their sponsors, like Mike’s Hard Lemonade, big deal, I never drank it, anyway.

Yet maybe I’m wrong. Maybe beliefs and stands matter. My wife backs me, our oldest daughter plays T-ball, and I’ve discovered other parents agree. Seattle Mariner attendance is down, and a young struggling team is not the only reason. The lit candle might not be a mere platitude. Our views influence how we raise our children and treat our peers. They’re not just token moral placebos.

Please explain what just happened.

I have no idea. I was in the booth facing the restrooms and Donnie came in all fucked up and I was all like, “What the fuck, Donnie?” and he was all like, “It was fucking n*****s, dude. Like three fucking n*****s.” And I was all like, “Shut the fuck up” because there were like three tables of black people in there and he’s all yelling and shit, but whatever the fuck it was, it was goddamned embarrassing because I wasn’t even drunk yet.

But fucking Donnie… Donnie is a fucking idiot.

What is your earliest memory?

I’m not sure. I have a series of tattoos, notes and Polaroids but I don’t exactly know which one is the first. Either way, I’m pretty sure somebody murdered my wife.

 

I’m a night person. I pull all-nighters. No, I don’t do speed (although I might as well). I simply hit an hour of no return and there I am watching the clock roll into the future. Bringing in the next day. Telling me I made one more.

2am.

4:30am.

Usually, if I get to bed before 10:30 then I’m good. But if I pass that time then who knows what’s going to happen.

1:30am.

3:20am.


As of late, I’ve been night binging. Like a junky. But I like the night. I like the deep black and find comfort in it. I like the silence that the light of day doesn’t offer.

In my latest binge I’ve reread Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Strange Pilgrims; John Fante’s Wine Of Youth; A.M Homes’ Things You Should Know; and Ishmael Reed’s The Free-Lance Pallbearers. Last night I started Annie Proulx’s That Old Ace In The Hole.

It’s pretty good. Annie’s a brutal unflinching writer. I love her to bits. I want to kiss her lesbian lips.

Muah, Annie. Muah, baby.

A few of these nights were spent talking to Zara Rose Potts via IM. A dear person in this life and any other. We shared notes on our respective countries. We talked politics, food, world accents, volcanoes, earthquakes, and the man/woman predicament, among other things.

I now know that fish and chips sounds like fush and chups on the New Zealand tongue. And what Americans refer to as screwing is rooting over there.

Rooting!

I told her that I don’t refer to sex as screwing but call it handled.

“Like in, ’Yeah, I handled her,” I told her over the long wire across the sea that divides us.

We had a good laugh. I told her she could have it, pass it around her town that in my mind is covered in green and distant gold.

We got off the line one night and she told me: “Kia ora.” 

A nice sentiment indeed.

Kia ora, Zara

Just waiting for the chocolate.

I’ll gobble them up and wink your direction.

Dimples and all.

Kia ora, Zara.

Kia ora.

* * *

I live in a cluttered neighborhood full of bleached houses and faded cars.

And action.

One night I sat in my driveway and took in the sights. Cats, like ghosts, floating across the street. A couple of dudes walked by smoking, the tips of their cigarettes sparking red like lightning bugs. I heard one of them say: “She’s a bitch.”

The people across the street opened their door, pulled out their lawn chairs and started drinking beers. They fired up a joint, throwing back their heads and blowing their hits into the tree they were sitting under.

The pot hit my nose and took me away in soft memory. I wasn’t the only one that was up at 3:30 in the morning. Burning through the day.

Night people.

We’re nuts. We’re going crazy.

I stood up and noticed the glow of a casino.

From my house I can see the neon pulse of the Eastside Cannery. It wasn’t too long ago a friend came into town and we stumbled in there and ended the night in a blur of smiles and flashing hands. I woke up, head spinning over the pale splash of the Boulder Strip, and shoveled in a huge plate of dry eggs, hash browns, and bacon in my hurting mouth.

No more whiskey, I told myself. No more fucking whiskey.

* * *

The late night also brings on a slew of commercials that you won’t see when Regis finally shuts his mouth.

Enter Girls Gone Wild. They own the late night. Young college chicks pulling off their silky bras and ripping off their skimpy thongs. Bodies twisting, turning, and bending over for your viewing pleasure.

These videos are big business. It’s straight porn. Make no bones about it. Porn, folks, porn. Sure, no johnnys flying around winking at you and sinking in, but porn nonetheless.

“We’re looking for the hottest girl in America,” a girl announces, her tits taking in some lame sun.

Then you get hit with a barrage of chicks pulling all kinds of stunts: flipping over. Kissing each other, slowly pulling down their best buy and revealing the goods.

Vagina.

It’s hysterical.

Totally hysterical.

But I remember those days.

Young reckless days.

Girls snapping bras and throwing them across the room. Strangers splayed in front of me laughing from the buzz of cheap beer and whatnot.

Girls bending over in front of me and going: “Reno, what do you see?”

Those videos sell for the obvious reasons.

Sex.

Sex.

Sex.

Like religion and cockroaches.

They’re here for keeps.

For better or ill.

* * *

Another amusing thing you’ll see when you stay up late at night is the infomercials that take over the TV. People who need this must need junk.

It’s pure Fool’s Gold.

Soaps that clean everything – even your dirty soul.

Mops that can wipe away your latest crime.

Quick cash cuts that will pull you out of your current predicament.

Make-up that will make you prettier than your eyes are telling you.

Knives that cut through tin cans and then slip through a piece of fruit with ease.

Those Jesus swine telling you their mud smells better than yours.

Cookers of various kinds that will make you look like a five-star chef. Or a one-star chef – depending on if you follow the directions correctly.

Exercise machines that will fix your flabby arms, chicken legs, flat ass, and bulging mac n’ cheese-filled gut. 

Dudes with big muscles, twisting and curling. Shiny skin, greasy jock hair, and dumb flat smiles. Girls in tight colored uniforms bending over, stretching back their arms pushing out their fake Vegas tits. Their faces the same: tight with make-up and stupid nervous. Hair pulled back. Cheap cheerleader smiles.

It’s High Art.

But the one that rules the night and is stamped on a thousand channels: ExtenZe.

Now, according to the commercials your performance is bumped up a few notches. The pills give you some extra fire, some extra zest. So, when your lady friend hits your bed you’ll have the ammo to knock her boots out of the proverbial park.

Smack.

Going, going, gone.

Homerun, baby.

Daddy’s home.

You’re alive again and not that limp shell of a man you were before you started popping pills.

Got to love science.

Wait! And the best part: your willy may get bigger. Oh, yes. And what man doesn’t want a bigger johnny?

What man?

* * *

Again the hours tell me the night is coming. Again the cats slipping across the gutted street looking for some shit. Again more books eating what’s left of my Mexican brain. Pick up Dylan Thomas, Carver, Cheever and Tomas Rivera and put them in my hungry I-want-it-all mouth.

I don’t know moderation.

Unfortunately.

Again those sleek steak knives and machines that will tighten up my ass and lift my sagging arms. Again, I’ll remember those slippery girls telling me things I could never tell my dear mother.

I’ll do away with the for-sure cash payouts, the make-up, the fuck pills, and those Jesus con-artists that make my Jesus as appealing as a dead rat.

And I’ll be there. Eyes wide. Watching like a child. Taking notes. Shaking my head. But maybe wanting a mop to clean my dirty soul.

Hey.

Hey, hey.

Goodnight, folks.

Sleep well.

Okay.