As a writer with a Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing, I make most of my living teaching composition, argument and rhetoric to college students. This means I have the often-unenviable job of pointing out to students when their thinking is flawed, which in this era of anti-intellectualism is a dangerous and radical idea.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a carminative, carnival-hating carnivore with a voracious appetite for plump pluralists speaking in the persnickety pluperfect; and was constantly being busted for driving drunk with an expired poetic license.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a highly intoxicated, contumacious succubus; a mealy-mouthed, heavily medicated, nitrous-huffing hitman that couldn’t shoot his way out of a greasy paperbag.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a snide, snafu-loving, crappy lapidary, whose drooling dreams of overly depressed dromedaries were more painful than a demonstrative dreadnought in your noggin.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a double-crossing, conniption-throwing con artist that was once busted for keeping an arsenal of saccharine, Silly String, and sodium nitrate in a mountain cabin once owned by the Unabomber.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a sarcastic, hotel towel-stealing, hangover artist; a hanky-panky practicing, skank-loving, loopy & loquacious Wall Street banker whose soul was an all-night crematorium for creativity & coincidences.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a defrocked and dehydrated follower of zymurgy and zombie logic; a bowlegged & brainwashed, jukebox-bashing bondsman, highly skilled in the ju jitsu of junkfood.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a Viagra-popping, far-from-demulcent denominator for the fraction of fractured faith healers; a hernia in the body of hope; a hemorrhoid on the ass of ardency; and a total cheater when it comes to Parcheesi.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a somnambulant, shrink-wrapped & wilted vibrator for the sex life of lethargy; a tantrum-throwing, Mother Theresa-hating headbanger whose great hubris & halitosis were far more unnerving than being tailgated by a time bomb.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a fainthearted & hypersensitive sesquipedalian; a distraught & divisive virologist whose life was a facsimile of a facsimile of a poorly written simile.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a cholera-ridden, mosquito-bitten polysyllable basher; a party-crashing conduit for slobbering dromedaries and fractured fairy tales full of false endings and wishes that never come true.

 

Happy a happy holiday season anyway, y’all!

 

 

Things you’ve said under your breath.

Things people have said with their last dying breath.

Things that drive people to drink.

Things that made Jesus think, “Maybe I’m in the wrong line of business…”

Things you can only find in Detroit.

Things that make you jump for joy.

Things that make people jump from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Things that get stuck between your teeth.

Things you’ve stuck in your ear, up your nose, or up your butt.

Things that change from ugly to beautiful.

Things that frighten you.

Things that enliven you.

Things to help raise your credit score.

Things to help lower your cholesterol.

Things organisms have done to adapt & survive.

Things that make certain men become priests.

Things that make certain women wrestle alligators.

Things serial killers think about.

Things you find in a dead man’s pockets.

Things you find in your own pockets.

Things named after Greek Gods.

Things people have done in the name of God.

Things that cause acne.

Things that cause cancer.

Things to consider before having a baby.

Things to consider before joining the French Foreign Legion.

Things you’d do if you had wings.

Things you’d do if you had the Green Lantern’s power ring.

Things to help clear your aura.

Things you can clear out of your orifices.

Things you should always buy generic.

Things you’ve always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask.

Things associated with winter.

Things associated with summer.

Things you’d do if you only had a week left to live.

Things you’d do if you were President.

Things the atom bomb thinks before going boom.

Things the flower bud thinks before going bloom.

Things they put into processed meats.

Things you do during the five stages of grief.

Things you’ve learned from the Bible.

Things you’ve learned from the National Enquirer.

Things to say while sexting.

Things you should never say to someone who’s depressed.

Things you forget.

Things you desire.

Things you’ve done while under the influence of drugs.

Things you’ve done while under the influence of love.

Things that make you go “Hmmm…”

Things you see when staring up at clouds.

Things your pets do when you’re not around.

Things you can smoke.

Things you can recycle.

Things behind the sun.

Things to make your car run better.

Things you find alongside the road

Things you find washed up on the beach.

Things you build.

Things you compete for.

Things you do when you’re alone in your room.

Things Van Gogh thought just before cutting off his ear.

Things that go in one ear and out the other.

Things you can burn.

Things you can save.

Things to say to get a girl wet.

Things to say to get a guy hard.

Things to say to get kicked off jury duty.

Things you can carry.

Things you can hide.

Things that decay.

Things that rejuvenate.

Things made of plastic.

Things made of corn.

Things put into time capsules.

Things put into compost piles.

Things that live under your skin.

Things you find around Jim Morrison’s grave.

Things that remind you of Buddha.

Things that remind you of Judas.

Things your doctor won’t tell you.

Things your parents won’t tell you.

Things your lover won’t tell you.

Things your best friend won’t tell you.

Things the major corporations won’t tell you.

Things the government won’t tell you.

Will never tell you.


Click here to see the author recite this piece.

Author’s Note: Once you’ve read the following piece, please feel free to watch the video of it as well. You can see it right here on TNB-TV.


To The Judgmental, Rushing-to-Conclusions Cashier at My Local Supermarket:


Just because I came in at 2 a.m. last night to purchase almond milk, Astroglide and graham crackers doesn’t mean I’m some lactose-intolerant, sport-fucking insomniac with a sweet tooth. It just means that for a change I’m in love. Real love. Capital L. Capital O. Capital V. Capital E: LOVE. All in bright, blinking lights and spread across the evening sky.

So please, judgmental, rushing-to-conclusions cashier at my local supermarket, the next time you see me, stop rolling your eyes and shaking your head. Just take my money, gimme my goods and change and I’ll be on my way. Cause waiting for me at home is love. Real love. All that capital letter, bright blinking light love. My love, she’s the one whose steady breath is a calendar marking my days. She’s nothing like those cheap Merlot girls I’ve known before; the ones lacking body, heavy with acidic wit and leaving me feeling like shit the next day.

So please, judgmental, rushing-to-conclusions cashier at my local supermarket, even though you may think I’m some babbling Hollywood street freak shaman of oddities, understand that you and me, we’re not so different. You, you’re constantly being pummeled by Muzak, rude customers and fluorescent lights. And me, I’ve also had my share of crushingly catatonic days; feeling way beyond torn, loco as Dahmer, no longer on speaking terms with my soul’s personal embalmer. Instead of a happy man floating on air I was a dead man walking.

So please, judgmental, rushing-to-conclusions cashier at my local supermarket, don’t think I’m some 21st Century twist on Jack the Ripper should I come in late one night buying kitchen gloves, razor blades and heavy-duty dental floss. Really, I’m harmless. All I’m trying to do is make sense of love. Capital L. Capital O. Capital V. Capital E: LOVE. Yeah, with my love I’ve learned that muscle memory is far trustworthier than prayer. So I just keep on swinging from the trapeze of her irresistibility, knowing that should I let go she’ll be there with absolute grace, pulling me into her embrace. And the way we move—flesh against flesh, confession against confleshion—it’s like lullabies and locomotives are stitched into our skin.

So please, judgmental, rushing-to-conclusions cashier at my local supermarket, stop looking at me like you’re writing me hate mail on the backs of your eyeballs. I’m just trying to make a point here. Just baring my soul, trying to make sense of love. Real love. All that capital letter, bright blinking light love. With my love, I’d gladly bury myself alive deep within the pleasure tomb of her wanting. It don’t scare me that there are no visible exit signs written into her blood, cause there’s nowhere else I’d rather be but love. Real love. Capital L. Capital O. Capital V. Capital E: LOVE. Yeah, my love, she’s the 13th apostle in Faith’s good-luck gospel. Knows her semiotics and semi-automatics. She’s locked and loaded at the 11th hour. Wielding her salvation gun, she’s ready to shoot me not down, but up. Oh, astronomy, Deuteronomy, Nostradamus, Monopoly. While it all might sound like a game here, I’m not kidding.

So please, judgmental, rushing-to-conclusions cashier at my local supermarket, stop looking at me like you’re S.W.A.T., just biding your time, waiting for a clear shot. Hear me out when I say that love, real love, my love, all that capital letter, bright blinking light love, she’s my Hope Diamond treasure. My telepathic push-me, pull-you of pleasure. Her lips are assassins doling out bullets of uncomplicated bliss. And when we kiss: Present, past & future, I never know what tense I exist in with her anymore. Cause it all feels like Now.

So please, judgmental, rushing-to-conclusions cashier at my local supermarket, know that love, real love, my love, she’s all hips and hydrogen bomb. Blows me away every time I see her walking down the street. She’s my lowdown, sweet and dirty mystic angel, swirling Jersey pirate radio. And oh how I play that station all night long. No more sorrow songs. Those were ten moons and an ocean ago. Back when I had the words early grave tattooed on my psyche. Back when misery blew me away so badly they needed a dustpan and broom to clean me off the walls of Kingdom Come.

So please, judgmental, rushing-to-conclusions cashier at my local supermarket, stop giving me those dirty looks the next time I come in to shop. Especially if I’m buying more almond milk, Astroglide and graham crackers. Believe me, it’s all for a good cause. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you here. I’m just trying to make sense of Capital L, Capital O, Capital V, Capital E: LOVE.

I click on random news items from my Comcast homepage regularly. It’s a bad habit and wastes a colossal amount of time, but I’m pretty much addicted to any link where someone “slams” someone else. Jen lashes out at Angelina! Rosie rips Oprah! Axl hammers Slash! Mayer porks Bieber! Boehner shanks Barney Frank! In almost every instance the actual confrontation turns out to be some mild disagreement or manufactured insult and it reassures me how enticing the prospect of public confrontation is, and how rarely it delivers. Monetary scandal, sexual transgression, and celebrity shit-talking are the three muses of modern entertainment, but even the actual goods like Bernie Madoff or Tiger quickly devolve into a wearisome parade of carefully-worded statements.

Which is why the commentary following each link is so fascinating. Unlike a boozy Federline massaged by his handlers after slagging someone outside the Viper Room, anonymous posters sink their claws into one another openly and viciously. There are few ramifications in airing these opinions and therefore zero self-censorship, which is not only liberating but possibly the single most honest reflection of what the internet purports to be. Until you’ve read about twenty posts. And then skimmed through twenty more. A vast majority tend to be both grammatically cubist and intellectually constipated, a fact which doesn’t seem to lessen their number or frequency. It baffles me that anyone has the endurance to continue shouting into a collective wind with so little prospect of being heard. Why, for instance, did Ponygirl54 feel the need to share her thoughts on the Kyoto Accords beneath yesterday’s review of The Blind Side? What inner turmoil drove Shahbagger9 to respond by calling the Octomom a douche? Even Budonkadonk66’s wife can’t possibly care about his musings on North Korean intransigence, can she?

I didn’t. Until a few weeks ago, when I was reading an article on the passage of health care (Fox gutshots Pelosi!) that included a transcript from one of Glenn Beck’s radio shows. Beck polished all his usual trinkets: Ronald Reagan (awesome), global warming (feh), socialism (deviltry), William Ayers (still whispering in a certain ear), ACORN (ha-ha, cornholes), and the evils of progressive thought (even more evil than suspected, run!) before sharing an uncanny knowledge of the Founding Fathers’ takes on a variety of contemporary issues. It turns out John Jay would not be feeling the stem cell research. Ben Franklin would almost certainly have eaten his wig (Whig?) over the usage of reconciliation. And Alexander Hamilton was practically born to open-carry a Tec-9 into the Weehawken Starbucks. Which makes nothing particularly clear, except that if the Founding Fathers’ original intent was to be regularly fellated by a gin-soaked Elmer Gantry who two centuries later would make a fortune grafting his wholly divergent thoughts onto their defenseless backs, it has certainly come to pass. At any rate, beneath this particular article was a truly endless scroll of posts, a group of responses so lengthy and virulent they glowed like a lump of iridium. I spent hours re-reading every last one. Opinions decamped along the entire political spectrum, from Incest Militia Right to Kennedy Martini Left, but each was crammed with its own particular brand of fury and invective. The voices were so unrelenting that after a while I began to suspect I’d stumbled upon something greater than its individual parts. Like the Virgin Mary’s face scorched into a tortilla, these posts may not have been just a random wishful representation. Maybe they were a message. To me. A perfectly chosen, mathematically precise cross-section of voices representing the utter and incurable dysfunction that is 2010 America.

Later that day I was jogging down by the waterfront, wondering what my discovery meant. Sure, advances in technology allow us to do things even Prince couldn’t have conceived of in 1999. Chat Roulette. Live-Cam Chubby Dorm. The ability to, without government interference or restriction, refer to one another as “dogz” on the Tool Academy website. But have these things, in the end, actually improved our ability to communicate? Further, was it possible for someone (me) to pull on a few yards of sackcloth (itchy) and write the rare lucid yet conciliatory post that didn’t scream, accuse, or alienate? That tried to incorporate the valid points of both Right, Left, and nougat-filled Middle? That could, like Martin Luther nailing 95 pixelated theses to a message board door, kick off a revolution of non-partisan thought?

Probably not. But I decided to try. So I sat down without reflection or guile, attempting to be as open and honest as I possibly could, a human Camp David. I avoided saying obvious things like “if you drive a Hummer in 2010, there’s a lonely nub where your penis should be.” I avoided mentioning the cash-besotted freedom-ride that is Sarah Palin in any way. I ignored the fact that the last time I attempted to join one of these conversations, the only direct response I got was “Yer a fag.” And although I responded by saying “Well, no, but it’s tempting to join, if only because of how apoplectic being gay makes those who decry government intrusion in their lives while trying to legislate my orgasm.” To which I got no response at all. Nevertheless, as I warmed up the keyboard, I felt weirdly confident and newly attuned to my fellow countrymen.

Here’s what I wrote back on the Beck stream:

 

We are all Americans, are we not? Why do we persist in acting like all liberals are evil and all conservatives stupid? There was a time in this country when most people recognized, despite their party’s current electoral success, that the duty of government was to find common ground upon which to pass legislation. Congressional leaders are now so locked into a continual cycle of re-election campaigns, media baiting, and ideological tactics that they are unable to take stands according to their conscience or constituents. Polemical commentary from both FOX and MSNBC hand-feeds the inertia. Far Right television propaganda is brilliant at manufacturing false divisions and corrosive to reasoned thought. The far Left propaganda arm is scandal obsessed and too whiny to be corrosive to anything. Both sides can flash all the pie charts they want, but no one truly knows if the health care bill will lower our deficit in the long term. In a decade we’ll look back on its passage as a decision of either brave genius or unbelievable folly. Meanwhile, entitlement Ponzi schemes continue to gobble both liberal and conservative dollars. George Bush failed to address them for eight years, mostly because he’d already spent his lunch money on Colin Powell’s WMD/Yellowcake tour. So if not this bill now, what and when? The only people who’ve won during Our Year of Procedural Ploys are the insurance companies. And the Chinese, who nurse our debt. Why can’t we pull together and stop using liberal and conservative as epithets and craft legislation that may not be perfect or ideologically pure, but at least represents movement? (yes, I realize it’s because lobbyists now pretty much write the bills themselves, but let’s stay on point.) Barack Obama won the presidency with a clear majority. Allow him to enact his agenda. In three years, if his decisions seem unwise, vote Romney. Or Non-Lesbian Cheney Daughter. It’s clear the congressional minority is willing to stall away all of our lives as a cynical campaign tactic. Why doesn’t this infuriate across party lines? The wearisome McConnell/Kyl/Boehner refrain that they are “not being heard” neglects the fact that their voices are justifiably marginalized because their side lost. Democrats loathed George Bush and frequently acted in their own self-interest during his administration, but they still managed to find compromises on many of the bills he proposed while hugging the pommel horse like Ving Rhames over the ones they couldn’t live with. That’s how politics works. Being in power sometimes means having the freedom to fail spectacularly. If John McCain (sadly broken by Karl Rove in South Carolina in 2000 and now without a single genuine conviction except remaining in office) had been elected president I’d be making the same argument: he won, let him do his thing, and in a couple of years we’ll check back and see, since no matter what demented legislation he proposed while trying to metabolize a Cialis bubble it couldn’t possibly be worse than our current gridlock. So the time has come to be honest about the sources of our anger. Disagreeing with the president, our president, is not the same as constantly questioning his legitimacy. Americans who claim to be patriotic but cavalierly wave placards of Obama with a Hitler mustache are exercising a speech which is not only not free, but void of both historical context and moral root. Americans who hold signs bearing conveniently truncated quotations about “the blood of tyrants” or “taking our country back” are really saying that our president should not be allowed to act on promises made during a winning campaign that sixty-five million people voted for. Which is, in effect, saying that they do not believe in representational Democracy. They do not believe in voting. Their patriotism is malleable and dependent upon being governed by someone who simply touts their narrow interests. Can it be true that every single thing Obama stands for is utterly wrong and false? It’s a seductive idea, because jettisoning nuance is an underrated pleasure. Particularly with language. Like when Tea Partiers say “Obama’s a socialist” what they really mean is “I have zero clue what socialist economics actually entails, but it makes it easier to hide the fact that I wish my head of state were more alabaster.” When they say “Obama’s a Muslim” what they really mean is “If I can attribute to him interest in a religion that’s safe to publicly ridicule, I can more easily call him things that should otherwise have me arrested for sedition.” When they say “Obama was not born in this country”, what they really mean is “Sure it’s a state, but Hawaii is on the very far left of most maps, and, frankly, that makes me uncomfortable.” The unpleasant truth is that Republicans and Democrats both have valid ideas. They’re also both represented by those who do nothing but parrot taking points and flash capped teeth. Scandal is not aberration, it’s inevitability. This very second John Ensign’s parents are writing a fatter check, Eric Massa is snorkeling his own private reef, and Larry Craig 2.0 is pulling The Wide Stance in some Capitol Hill bar stall. We are all weak, vain, duplicitous, and unable to consistently curb our uglier impulses. But we are not all running for public office. When our three major qualifications for election are raising money, going to a church where in the history of videotape the preacher has never said anything remotely controversial, and being the candidate who most effectively sublimates their personal brand of kink, we will continue to get exactly the representation we deserve. Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann are the same person: marionettes hired by network-owning billionaires whose political ranting is calculated not only to reinforce what we already believe, but to convince us to buy burgers, cars, and other burgers. We are constantly made to hate things that have no value while being blinded to the advantages enjoyed by the ruling class (by which I mean not Democrats or Republicans, but generational affluence). There were no Tea Partiers railing about a “redistribution of wealth” while George Bush’s deficit-financed tax cuts passed, mostly because more than fifty percent of the benefit went to the top five percent of the economy. Cash is its own lobby. And that money will trickle down eventually. Of course, when it does it’ll be in the form of frozen piss dumped by a commuter jet bound for Cleveland, but at least it’ll create thousands of new jobs in the umbrella industry. Fomenting anger over meaningless social issues is a diversionary tactic that goes all the way back to Millard Fillmore insisting Christmas be re-named Millardmas. Or at the very least Christmard. From flag burning (Iran Contra) to swift boating (Enron) to the notion that somewhere lurks a generic family by which to gauge what constitutes family values (Goldman Sachs), a succession of wealthy people have repeatedly and cynically increased that wealth by dangling the Carrot of Irrelevance high above all our heads.

It is time, friends, that we begin hating things that actually matter.

Together.

 

 

Of course, it should come as no surprise that my comments were absolutely pilloried. By the time I’d posted, the thread had gone cold. But once my words went up, the coals were stoked, and within hours a frenzy of responses stretched the server limit. I was called every possible name, from Marxist to Dickhead to Dave Matthews fan (ouch!), but the only one that really bothered me was unpatriotic, which I take to mean there are those who will always remain blind to the ridiculousness of their certainty, even while identifying the ridiculousness of mine. The bottom line is that I don’t need to be agreed with. But I do want to be listened to. At least long enough to argue that discourse is only a slightly dirty word.

 

 

 

When you read this I hope you know it’s about you. Cause whenever I’ve tried to be your friend all you’ve done is stabbed me in the back. Strung my hope out on crack. Sure it hurt like hell, all those times you did me in. Promised me the moon then drowned my trust in your bathtub gin. And while they say denial is the first step of the grieving process, with you I’ve gone through that and anger, depression, second-guessing, then around the moon and back. But screw that noise. Save that off-key song for the soul-sucker that delivers your Fisher Price sex toys.