Dear Dust

Huh. Sounds like you read a lot. You’re not one of those people who reads all the time and then acts all superior and says stuff like “I don’t even have a TV” are you? I hope not. Because I hate people like that. And I like you.

Anne R.


Dear Anne

No, I’m not one of those people. I do indeed have a TV, in fact a 120-inch Samsung plasma with live streaming, Basra AntiGlare©, Harmon Kardon 18 speaker QuadSound©, and 360 degree NostrilVision©. On this technical marvel and black plastique monument to the limitless possibilities of mass production and skyward mental strivings of man, I mostly watch English Premiere League soccer from a feed drawn into Castle Dust via Ukrainian satellite signal. Additionally, I enjoy HAC, the Hardened Arteries Channel, which  mainly runs old black and white episodes of Frontline, during which I relish the sight of William F. Buckley filleting his namby intellectual foes of the day, in particular the loathsome Noam Chomsky. I also have a taste for the local cable access channel Q-13, which frequently airs Your Hour With Jeannie Davis. It’s narrated by a delightful young woman who has recently quit her job as a pedicurist in favor of embarking on a career as a full-time musician, playing all the local clubs and pubs as the lead singer of Jeannie Davis and Sparkle, which, I can tell you, having seen them both live and on grainy up-converted video, is a true audiophile experience. I also enjoy Jeopardy, not only because it forces my remaining grayish matter to de-rust and neural pathways to fire and bad prions to continue to hibernate, but because regularly running through entire categories–like the always amusing Potent Potables–with nary an incorrect answer gives me a continuing sense of superiority and self-worth. And, I should admit, as they used to say of George W. Bush “he just seems like a good guy to have a beer with,” I have long felt that there is not a single person on the entire planet with whom I would rather quaff a Genesee Cream Ale than the unflappable Canadian quizmaster Alex Trebek. Finally, I find myself something of an addict when it comes to watching reruns of the splendid and sublime vampire dramady Angel, which, it should be noted, is a spinoff of the somewhat less fabulous Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which Buffy’s former undead lover, the near cromagnon-browed Angelus (played with every ounce of dark and brooding heft one could ask of the deeply underrated David Boreanaz) moves to Los Angeles to take up his own campaign of alley-punching, heart-staking, and otherwise snappy thwarting of various unethical revenants. But, and here is where I go out on a very thin limb indeed, the true reason I tune in to Angel so unavailingly is the presence of the near-divine Charisma Carpenter, an actress of such presence and preternatural beauty that I am struck nearly dumb every time I am in her broadcast presence. Yes, friends, I am truly and undeniably smitten. Her portrayal of the wonderfully scattered and endearingly self-involved Cordelia Chase, so pitch-perfect and nuanced that one would be forgiven for suspecting that perhaps she is not acting at all (ha!) drives me to flights of amoral fantasy, in particular a scenario where Miss Carpenter and I are lying on a blanket in a field of gently swaying grass. I kiss her tumescently on halter-exposed clavicles. We laugh at private jokes and the bleatings of those unlucky not to have found their soul-mates as we have. And then she leans over and feeds me from a bunch of freshly washed Italian muscats, each ominously purple and the size of a ram’s testes.

Candy, of course, prefers the Real Housewives of Any Given City to almost any other show. I find this to be an execrable hour of manipulative and cynical programming filled with unrepentant egoists and silicone tragedies in which no one connected to the production–from the director to the gaffer to the wig wrangler–should be able to wake on any given morning without the urge to give up all their worldly possessions and move to Mumbai where they could spend the rest of their days purifying themselves in the holy slosh of the Ganges in order to remove the Lady Macbeth-like stain that corrodes deep into their very souls from having been involved with such a repugnant and contemptible moneyshot of televised “reality.” Although when I express these thoughts, Candy always tells me to “shush” and raises the volume to foundation-trembling levels. Further, when I suggest to her that perhaps, as an alternative, those production people could make amends by agreeing to embrace true reality and instead begin airing the Real Housewives of Breast Cancer, or the Real Housewives of Being Overweight and Alone, or the Real Housewives of Leaving Your Children for an Affair With Marty From Legal, or the Real Housewives of Dying on the Operating Table Due to Excessive Liposuction and a fatal Collagen-to-Platelet Blood Ratio, she tells me if I don’t shut the freak up I can go sleep on the couch, and good luck finding the spare sheets and pillow.

Now Fabian, as I surmise all young people do in 2011, has given up on broadcast television entirely, preferring to “stream” programs from the internet, primarily “tube” videos in which cats get their heads stuck in tuna cans, teenagers sing off-key, hefty shoppers do faceplants after slipping on spilled smoothies, young men with skateboards spavin their testicles on metal handrails attempting to do “reverse fakies” and Korean girls ululate in glass-breaking karaoke falsettos to the stylings of yet another pube-less manufactured heartthrob.

So yes, Anne, I have now laid myself bare and revealed to you the watching habits of my family.

But if I were truly being honest I would reveal one more:

Lately I’ve become a regular and ardent viewer of Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. I realize it may sound as if I’m being facetious here, but I am not. I truly am fascinated by the program, at the same time that I loathe it–and loathe myself for watching it. There are so many unavoidable truths lurking beneath its voyeur-porn surface. Namely, that addiction is just another term for narcissism. That most people are wholly unable to see outside themselves to even the tiniest degree. That the machinery of fame is even more of a soul-thresher than Nathaniel West had warned us of. That Dr. Drew Pinsky is a charlatan of the highest order, hiding behind his lavender shirts the true purpose (cash money) for airing ethically bereft footage of sadly debilitated, clownishly suffering D-listers under the guise of selflessly wanting to “spread the word” about the dangers of addiction, as if somehow the “dangers of addiction” were not a driving force in the composition of almost every American family, from Coffee to Booze to Meth to God. Is there any person on earth who can watch Bai Ling climb the roof the Malibu Rehab Center, edited so that it is repeated half a dozen times during the show, and see the sheer craziness in her eyes, and not surmise that her post-rape alcoholic decompression is perhaps an immoral conduit for VH-1 afternoon ratings? Does anyone actually find it amusing to make “Mr. Brownstone” jokes while watching the hostile stroke-inflected paranoia of former GNR drummer Steven Adler? Is there any reason that Dr. Pinksy’s in-house assistants come across as uniformly cold, inept, cruel, and stupid? Is it possible that their clumsy handling of volatile personalities intentionally leads to more titillating pre-commercial footage? Is there anything more depressing than watching Doc Gooden sweat through coke withdrawal while crying and apologizing to his abandoned son for having preferred powder to parenting in a series of grainy close ups?

Cut to Dr. Drew, cool, serene, nodding and mouthing the words “Yes. So difficult. So very difficult. Gosh. Just keep letting it out…yes, all of it. Good. Excellent.”

You see, there are oaths (Hippocrates of Cos: “I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts” ) and then there are other oaths (Malcolm X: “Hoover up cash by any means necessary.”)

But as we all know, ratings, like LCD inches, are, in the end, the only things that (anti) matter.



Most sincerely,


The Dust



Ask Me Anything.

Talk Shit. Be Vulnerable.

Go ahead, I know it hurts.

[email protected]


All contact info is entirely confidential.


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J. ANGELUS DUST is not much interested in biography. J. Angelus Dust wants to know where it hurts.

31 responses to “Ask The Dust – Vol. 37”

  1. Joe Daly says:

    Letter 1: Mixed

    Totally agree with the assessment of Angel and the fantastic San Diego native, Charisma Carpenter, whose handy work as a San Diego Chargers cheerleader is tragically unappreciated.

    Totally disagree with Dust’s assessment that addiction is just another term for narcissism. That’s that’s the kind of pop psychology that is seditious enough to make sure that people who are addicted feel properly bad about their condition. I mean, it’s their fault anyway, right? They deserve all the despair, self-loathing, embarrassment, loneliness and isolation they get, so let’s call them narcissists, too!

    Yeah, Celebrity Rehab has impugned the integrity of rehab centers across the globe by portraying the process as a sad, sycophantic, over-priced spa for coddling egomaniacs. And yes, the people on that show more often than not look like buffoons. We don’t have to feel bad for these people- they got themselves in the shit and they clearly have the means to get themselves out of it if they want it badly enough. But to heap more condescension and judgment on them by saying they’ve got a personality disorder is just the kind of subliminal message that keeps people who really need help far away from the places who can provide some.

    People who suffer from addiction would give anything to not be addicted.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      When I can bring myself to watch Celebrity Rehab, I’m often shocked to see, having grown up around so many alcoholics in recovery, how NOT different D-list addicts are.

      I mean, it’s not wrong to say that addicts are selfish and self-loathing to the point of having to concoct delusions of grandeur and entitlement just to cope, even clumsily, with their lives and their shortcomings and their insecurities. This is a cardinal symptom of addiction.

      It’s difficult, generally speaking, to draw a clear line between the person who is addicted and the addiction itself (part of what makes addiction so terrible to overcome in the first place), but in this case, I think it’s important to accept something like: All addicts are narcissistic but not necessarily narcissists.

      Unlike a “true” narcissist, a person who is narcissistic simply as a side effect of addiction is capable of recognizing and accepting that their behaviors are narcissistic or maladjusted. True narcissists, those with the actual disorder, are notoriously all but untreatable for their inability to admit even the smallest shortcoming, let alone one as severe as narcissism.

      • Joe Daly says:

        I think addicts have narcissistic tendencies, and of course some may be narcissists but so many of them are full of so much self-loathing that I think they manufacture narcissistic behaviors as a way of overcompensating.

        The best description I’ve heard, and the most accurate, is that the addict/alcoholic is an egomaniac with an inferiority complex.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Ah. Then here is the source of the misunderstanding. What a narcissist really is.

          Feelings of insecurity and inferiority are central to narcissism.

          A narcissist can’t tolerate criticism, constantly seeks validation, justification, praise, and will shut out or abuse those who refuse to give it to them. They are perpetual victims, unwilling to take responsibility for anything. When things go badly, they tell themselves and others that hey are faultless and even better than most people, so a jealous, corrupt, and unfair world conspires against them.

          These things are necessary in order for narcissists to construct and keep up the delusion that protects them from their debilitating fear that they are worthless pieces of shit.

          Which sounds a LOT like an addict to me.

        • Fabian says:

          Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query Jessica Anya Blau! Mr. Dust says:

          “An agreement on the two state solution and peace between Mumbai and Islamabad may be at hand, because I am inclined to agree with Ms. Palapala here. At least in the sense that you seem to have taken the term ‘narcissism’ more as an insult than an (admittedly layman’s) psychological assessment. I think feelings of insecurity and self-doubt that are facets of narcissism tend to fuel the self-destructive impulse that propels a recreational user to become an addict. And this is certainly a point driven home by each and every participant in the Dr. Drew experiment. Further, the ability to renounce responsibilities, promises, friends, family, and common sense in favor of what it requires to get high full time undeniably requires a great degree of narcissism, of which D-listers willing to be filmed in rehab for another delusional shred of fame all naturally have in abundance anyway.”

    • Gloria says:

      Agree, Joe. I’m so glad you said that about addiction. It’s a chronic disease, not a personality flaw. I’ve never seen Celebrity Rehab, so I can’t address whether or not the in-patients do or do not have some character flaws that need to be dealt with. But, yes, shaming people with addiction to feel bad about themselves for their addiction just perpetuates a cycle of addiction and self-contempt. I work with people who have given their lives to removing the stigma of addiction through greater cultural understanding, as well as finding other ways to better treat addicts who, as you say, would often give their everything to not be an addict anymore.

      On a related note, did you see Russell Brand’s beautiful article about the death of Amy Winehouse in The Guardian?

  2. Jessica Blau says:

    You know, Dust, a friend pointed out to me the other day that only white people become stricken with the crazy idea of not owning a television.

    I love books. But I love TV, too. Have you seen the newest episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm?!

    • Greg Olear says:

      Palestinian chicken. ‘Nuf said.

      • Jessica Blau says:

        Palestinian Chicken was one of the best episodes since the one where Crazy Eyed Killah talked to Larry about “eating pussy” and threw trash on the ground for his maid, Delicious, to pick up. The return of the Sienfeld cast last season did not bring on the great hilarity expected. This season is already SO much better!

        • Fabian says:

          Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query Jessica Anya Blau! Mr. Dust says:

          “Mr. David’s antics make me nervous, in exactly the same way that watching I Love Lucy would make me too uncomfortable to finish my TV dinner. But I still watch(ed) them both.”

  3. Jess, this may be most favorite season of Curb, yet! Larry David and Ricky Gervais are the perfect combo, right?

    Yeah, TV is a medium – an information giver. If you kill your TV, you may as well kill
    magazines and books. And it could even be argued that the information one gets from a screen is actually more balancing for the brain hemispheres. Reading and writing, according to “The Alphabet Versus. The Goddess – The Conflict between Word and Image” by Leonard Shlain, can favor one side of the brain with information being received in a more linear fashion. Shlain argues that literacy reinforced the brain’s linear, abstract, predominantly masculine left hemisphere at the expense of the holistic, iconic feminine right one

    The book argues that anytime the written word was introduced in a society, there would be a shift toward the oppression of women. And in our society, with the introduction of the screen image, there was a harking back to the more balanced goddess times – which created a more balanced society by creating an equilibrium of brain hemispheres.

    So, having said that (hello, Curb Season 7?) I say: TV = Good! Books = Also Good – but TV also good, as long as you also go outside and enjoy the sunshine and live in the world, as well.

    • Jessica Blau says:

      Well said!

    • Fascinating, Stephanie. I just put that Leonard Shlain book on my library request list. Thanks!

      • I also put his book “Sex, Time, and Power: How Women’s Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution” on my request list. Have you read it?

        • No – but that sounds great; I’m going to put it on my list. See? Women really do rule the world.

          I can’t wait for you to read the book and hear your thoughts.
          This is one the rare books that I actually turned Greg onto.

        • Fabian says:

          Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query Stephanie St John Olear! Mr. Dust says:

          “Passed your Leonard Shlain recommendation onto Candy. Her reply: Holistic? Is that the name of Courtney Love’s new band? I believe the volume will molder on the shelf, but I ordered a copy anyway. An equilibrium of brain hemispheres is exactly what each Real Housewifeneeds. Either that, or a month on the Leavenworth ankle chain/highway beautification team.”

  4. Greg Olear says:

    Simon Baron Cohen, who runs the autism research center at Cambridge University, found that when young children with autism spent 15 minutes a day watching animated videos of vehicles with human faces on them, their ability to recognize emotions improved after one month.

    “Kids with autism treat moving trains, especially ones that have limited motion like just going along the tracks, as a natural reward,” he said. “It catches their attention. Once you’ve got the child’s attention, you can do many types of teaching.”

    From this NYT article:

    Take that, Kill Your Televisionaries.

    What’s your favorite Premier League team, Dust? Something tells me Arsenal, although it would be so much cooler if you were for Swansea City.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Dude, that’s fascinating stuff. Thx for sharing.

      My gf doesn’t have cable, so her kids get their TV fix via videos, mainly. When they come over to my house and turn on the tv (I’ve got a “Single Guy Cable Package,” meaning 5000 channels of nothingness), it’s like they’re entering Emerald City for the first time.

      As much as I enjoy the EPL, and will be watching my fair share this year, the Scottish Premier League continues to occupy the lion’s share of my footie fever. Which means that I wake up at 4 a.m. to watch Celtic FC, but that’s just a small price to pay.

      Who’s your club, Greg?

      • Greg Olear says:

        I couldn’t care less about soccer, Joe. I’m just giving The Dust crap. I do, however, have a fierce man-crush on Zidane, but I suspect I’m hardly alone…

        • Fabian says:

          Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query Greg Olear! Mr. Dust says:

          “I am a strong supporter of Tottenham Hotspur. And I agree, Kill Your Television as a slogan was momentarily amusing in 1987, when I first saw it affixed to a $6000 Cannondale whipping by me on a city street. In the face of the internet, which is nothing but democratized television, it is an affectation of the highest order, and sadly hypocritical.”

  5. Gloria says:

    Has Candy seen today’s news, Dust? Weird timing with this post and all. I don’t even think about the Real Housewives franchise – and now, here it is, twice in one day.

    I don’t watch much TV, mostly because it annoys me and I hate advertisements. That said, I do watch Jeopardy!. I love that dang show. And I watch some cartoons with my boys once in a while. I just don’t miss it. However, whenever I’m in someone’s home who has cable, I go all in. But when I’m not around it, I don’t think about it.

    My daughter, who is nearly 19, used to watch shows like America’s Next Top Model and The Swan (*shudders*) and I would bitch and complain the whole time about the insidiousness of the messages and whateverelse until, finally, I realized I was just further driving a wedge between my daughter and myself, so I just shut up. I stand by my rants, though. It’s just that they didn’t do any good.

    • Fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query Gloria! Mr. Dust says:

      “Candy has not seen today’s news, but I have read it to her between commercials. I agree that The Swan was one of the most truly immoral and ethically bankrupt shows ever broadcast. Tell your daughter not to drink, she will drink. Tell your daughter not to wear a certain blouse, she will wear it. Your only hope is to restrain all judgment and somehow make the right choices seem cool by silent example.”

      • Gloria says:

        Damn it, Dust! Where were you before I became a grandma four days before my 34th birthday?!

        Anywho. You’re never not a parent anymore. There’s still time to teach her abstinence through example, I suppose. So far, I’m being a stellar example!

  6. dwoz says:

    Noam Chomsky is not a loathsome. He just plays one on TV.

    Ahhh….back in the day when the lefties were considered spittle-flecked. My how the world turns.

    • Fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query Dwoz! Mr. Dust says:

      “Well, I confess I was only making a (very slight) joke about preferring Buckley to Chomsky. But I do indeed enjoy Buckley’s histrionics as well as his formidable if slightly privilege-retarded intellect. Chomsky, of late, especially with his unyielding insistence that every action the United States takes is one of rapacious imperium, has grown tired. But his brilliance is undeniable.”

      • dwoz says:

        Well…as much as Chomsky is heralded as a vanguard in the field of linguistics, he’s really quite parochial in his rejection of relativism, and his insistence that certain things, such as the child’s ability to language and the state’s ability to dominate, are innate.

        That he characterizes it innate and then rails against it, is to wonder what he actually hopes to accomplish.

        Still, in a world that nourishes Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin as serious competent voices, Chomsky would have to stop in the middle of a Ted Talk, strip naked, and light his butt hair on fire to even register on the “crazy” meter.

  7. jonathan evison says:

    . . . fabian is lying if he says he’s sworn off broadcast television completely . . . let’s just say i happen to know better . . .

    • Fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query Jonathan Evison! Mr. Dust says:

      “I was apprised a few weeks ago of the fact that you two enjoyed an episode of The L Word together.”

  8. pixy says:

    dear dust:

    this introduction to the “tube” world reminds me of you.

    it’s even better in 120″ nostrilvision. heh.


  9. universitas pasundan…

    […]J. Angelus Dust | Ask The Dust – Vol. 39 | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

  10. Russ Stebner says:

    Just the insight I was looking for, for my research project. Excellent. Thanks!

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