Saturday, January 7, 2017

America's Rigid, Throbbing Cock

What Gov. Palin used to call the lamestream media is predictably beside itself over your having noted in a tweet this past week that Arnold Schwarzenegger got "swamped" (or destroyed) by [sic] comparison to the ratings machine, DJT. So much for him being a movie star…” You went on to point out that your ratings were higher in the programme’s maiden season, before America had taken it to its heart, than Gov. Schwarzenegger’s after 14 seasons of the show becoming an American cultural institution. According to the lamestream media, your tweet was vindictive, petty, and self-glorifying, nowhere more than when you described yourself as a (or, as you put it, the) rating machine. I think, though, that we both know the real reason for your detractors’ umbrage. They envy your manliness. Has any of them ever faced down the dude who for decades, first through his remarkable musculature, then through his hypermacho movie roles, and latterly for having been found to have knocked up his and his ex-wife’s extremely not-hot housekeeper, exemplified (Austro-) American virility? Behold what the putatively hypervirile Governator is today, sir: your bitch! And which of you did it without steroids? You da man, Mr. President-Elect! 

As, in the past 18 months, you have made every adversary your bitch. How we laughed when that square-jawed, silver-templed personification of Mormon rectitude, Mitt Romney, came crawling to you after your election in spite of having talked smack about you during the campaign. “And Gov. Romney,” we can picture you telling your server while your little lickspittle du jour Rinse Previous snickered in obeisance, “will have the crow. Rare.” Where’s your God now, loser? LOL ROFL LMFAO! You da man, Mr. President-Elect!

We recall with delight little Marco Rubio daring to insinuate during the campaign that your penis might be disproportionately small, as your fingers are. How we roared our delight when you guaranteed — guaran-fucking-teed, Jack! — that you had no such problem. And now, with you about to become the most powerful man on the planet while little Marco has a little pout-a-thon and tries not to be devoured by palmetto bugs and stable flies down in a part of Florida you don’t (yet!) own, we can coolly consider the question of which of you is getting the higher-grade pussy. His wife Jeanette was a Miami Dolphins cheerleader. BFD, right! On what planet does leading cheers for the Dolphins, who’ve been losers since the Don Shula era a million years ago, compare to posing for a girl-on-girl, uh, spread in British GQ, as Melania did? On the hottest day of her life, Jeanette Rubio was maybe an 8.5. Even in her latter forties, Melania’s still at least a 9, and does anybody doubt that, as she gets ever nearer to 50, you’ll trade her in on somebody even hotter? Nothing but double-digits will do for the leader of the Free World, yo! You da man, Mr. President-Elect!

Can you imagine how Vladimir Putin is going to feel when you meet face-to-face, sir — or, more accurately, face-to-solar-plexus? The guy’s 5-4! If you stand behind him (nudge nudge, wink wink), you’ll be able to rest your chin on his little bald head! We’ll just see who’s the manlier leader! But the fact is that you don’t manifest your superiority only physically, but intellectually too. That you have the Really Good Brain to which you alluded so often during the presidential campaign is manifest in your every utterance, in your every tweet, even in the way you scowl censoriously during television interviews. You da man, Mr. President-Elect!

I’m just now rereading your New Year tweet, in which you sarcastically profess love for those who have dared defy you, “including…my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do.” As though one could feel anything other than pity or contempt for anyone so stupid as to fail to recognize yours as the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty! All that is in the heaven and in the earth is yours, sir. Yours is the kingdom, Mr. President-Elect. You da man!

The evangelicals will wince when I say this, but are they too not your bitches now? You, sir, are America’s rigid, throbbing cock. Make us great again, sir! Oh, do!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Thing One About Music

We auditioned a singer I’ll called Natasha a few weeks ago. She didn’t call herself Natasha, and I would be very surprised to learn that anyone she knew did either, as it wasn’t actually her name. In response to my advertisement for a lead singer, she sent links to several videos of herself singing with a succession of accompanists. Her original songs were just awful, I thought — tuneless, with banal lyrics — but she (over)sang them with undeniable skill, deploying all the most fashionable vocal mannerisms of these dreadful times — the melisma and what-have-you — and beggars can’t be choosers, so I invited her to come audition.

She had to come a very long way, from the other side of London, in the company of her not-gorgeous German partner. (In the UK, a woman refers to the boyfriend with whom she lives as her partner, which word usually connotes some sort of professional or commercial linkage in what’s left of my own country.) Herr Partner identified himself as a “music producer”, which nowadays usually means someone able to assemble…grooves in any number of software programmes that don’t require the user to know Thing One about music. He was affable enough, I suppose.

Not really "Natasha"
’d asked Natasha to prepare two of my songs for her audition. She sang them reasonably well, albeit very much more nasally than her videos had led me to expect. Her singing was more than good enough for me to invite her to stay for our actual rehearsal, with Dazza the guitarist and Andrew the bass player. She was pretty good, and tall, and blonde, and we’d been looking for a replacement for Dame Zelda since August. Andrew thought her a little presumptuous — she hadn’t hesitated to decry the way our three instruments were balanced — but he is hyper-English, from the one must stay calm and carry on without complaint school.

His reservations aside, I invited Natasha to join the band the next morning when I phoned her to discuss her audition, which she professed to have enjoyed. She seemed to like the idea, but needed to know how much she was likely to earn in a typical month, and how much of her time the band would consume. I was to understand that she had many other irons in the proverbial fire, not least her own singing/songwriting career. She said she would pleased to join the band only if not required to rehearse. It emerged that she regarded herself as A Professional, and believed that true professionals didn’t need to rehearse, but only to familiarise themselves in the comfort and privacy of their homes with the material to be performed.

Blimey, I thought, as I get to on the strength of having lived in the UK 97 of the past 174 months.

I must make a mental note to renew my artistic licence in February. I have not failed to notice that it comes up for renewal coincident with Valentines Day every year, though I have stopped sending Valentines to my genius, owing to the fact that it never reciprocates, reminding me of the darkest day of my days as a pupil, when I received Valentines only when I had a teacher who required that anyone sending any must send them to all his or her classmates, and not just the cute ones. My guess is that Natasha – who is very skinny, with lank hair and a big nose — wouldn’t have received a great many Valentines herself at her primary school, as hers is the sort of beauty requiring the shrewd management that few learn before young adulthood.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

We Visit Madrid

For the same reasons as in Athens, I’d expected Madrid to seem a little bit miserable. Weren’t both Greece and Spain in the European Union’s dog house for their disinclination to get their national debts paid? Weren’t both of them supposed to be enduring austerity to placate their German creditors? But Madrid seemed almost as prosperous as beautiful — and colder then either prosperous or beautiful. You’d never guess from its capital city in December that Spain is the country most loved by Brits fed up with the cold and dampness of their own country. Its frigidity was nearly as brutish as Berlin’s.

Our first day in town, we took one of those hop-on/hop-off tourist buses, and it, at least, seemed very austere indeed. In Berlin, I insisted that we kept going round and round the city because the prospect of getting off the lovely warm bus was too daunting to contemplate, but the Madrid version seemed not to have the heat on, and it was nearly as vindictively frigid inside as out. The pre-recorded narration advised us of the names of the architects and dates of completions of a succession of noteworthy buildings, and was so boring as almost to make us want to expose ourselves to the brutish cold again. I would estimate that at least 60 percent of the great, great many queued up to get into the Museo del Prado suffered hypothermia. Around the corner from the museum, a beggar lacking shoes was trying to get culture-lovers to drop a few eurocents into his rumpled McDonald McCafe cup, but few were doing so, and Dame Zelda fretted that he might lose a couple of toes to frostbite.

Noting that they intended to charge each of us 95€, and that their deluxe New Year’s Eve menus weren't exactly crammed with the vegetarian options on which she insists, I was able to persuade Dame Zelda not to have our last dinner of 2016 at one of the restaurants near to our gorgeous, stylish hotel. Instead, we trudged up Calle de Toledo to the La Latina area, and there found a modest, but very warm local restaurant with a charming, ebullient proprietor/server, no pretensions, and good food. While we ate, a quartet of English girls, one in a very short sequinned dress in which one less gangly might have caused traffic jams, fended off the pair of Belgian bachelors at the bar who apparently didn’t mind the prettiest one’s gangliness even a little. At meal’s end, we agreed that welcoming the new year in the nearby Plaza del Sol, in which we’d earlier seen mobs of machine-gun-brandishing policemen in bacalavas practicing their terrorism-discouraging glares, might be 20 glamorous and fun, but, because of the weather and the crowding, 80 unpleasant. We headed eagerly back to our hotel, and there, at midnight, watched the bombs bursting in air from our warm, comfortable room.

On the first day of 2017, we took ourselves on a little walking tour, and enjoyed the world’s most delicious hot chocolate (molten Heaven!) and churros at a place near the plaza we'd avoided the night before. Our considerable pleasure was slightly lessened by the guy who greeted us, if greeted us is the right word, when we came in. He made pretty clear that he resented our interrupting the exchange of texts he seemed to be conducting on his mobile phone. When I wondered if we might have a wee peek at the menu, he sneered contemptuously, and said, “Only chocolate and churros,” though we soon ascertained that coffee and croissants were also on offer. Our server fairly threw our churros and chocolate onto the table in front of us, but my own displeasure was lessened by the fact of his and other servers wearing beautiful white jackets, with gold buttons and braid epaulets, of the sort the captain on our 2008 cruise to the Caribbean had worn on Dinner with the Captain! nite.

Later, Dame Zelda elected to remain in our cozy, stylish hotel room catching up on emails on her tablet while I traipsed down to the river, which turned out not to be much of a river, but to be surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds, and traversed on one’s choices of bridges, one ancient, the other as modern as modern can be. As is my custom, I took a series of shadow self-portraits. I liked to imagine when I first began the series, in Wisconsin, in 2007, that they suggested that I’m cool and sexy and mysterious, but I have since realised they more eloquently suggest either that I lack self-esteem, or am too cheap to spring for a selfie stick.

I think both are probably true.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Clickbait Master Meets His Maker

The worst experience of Bohmeier’s life was leaving his younger son Brendan in the video games section of Target, going to buy a pair of Nike’s latest, highest-tech running shoe, and then returning to the video games section to find Brendan gone, and no one in the vicinity admitting to having seen him. He felt as he had the afternoon his father had phoned to tell him his mother had died — as though a very large horse had just kicked him square in the solar plexus. He could barely breathe. He collapsed to the floor, and Security had to be summoned to help him off the floor, onto which he’d collapsed whimpering.

For the next 48 hours, he didn’t sleep for longer than 20 minutes at a stretch. For the first few seconds after waking, he’d be ecstastic with telief, only to realise that his relief was unwarranted — Brendan’s abduction hadn’t, in fact, been a bad dream. He felt as though in Hell. The police, of course, assured him they were doing Everything in Their Power to recover his son, but everything in their power apparently wasn’t enough, as a week elapsed without Brendan being recovered, and then another week. And then one of the detectives sat Bohmeier down and told him that more than any other part of his job he hated having to tell Bohmeier what he was about to tell him. With each passing hour, he said, the likelihood of Brendan’s being found decreased geometrically. Bohmeier thought he was using”geometrically” incorrectly. And why did the guy suppose that, in the circumstances, Bohmeier cared what aspect of his job he hated most?

Bohmeier was eventually able to return to work, but was able to remain focussed only briefly. His headlines had once attracted the highest click-thru rate at the digital marketing company where he worked, but now his supervisor, Janine, was having to ask others to rewrite his stuff.  Bohmeier had never been religious — he’d in fact made no secret of his disdain for his one devout Muslim and two devout Christian colleagues — but heard himself whispering one typically sleepless night that he would gladly give up his own life if God would spare Brendan’s.

The next day at work, there was no sign either of Janine or of any of his colleagues, either pious or secular. There was a middleaged guy in Janine’s office, smoking, in contravention of both company policy and municipal ordinance. He introduced himself as The Lord Thy God, but told Bohmeier it was fine to address him as God. Bohmeier thought he must be a nutter, but then the guy showed him on his iPad what he said was live video of Brendan knocking on the door of Bohmeier’s ex-wife Patsy, and Patsy opening it, and bursting into exultant tears at the sight of him, and squeezing him so hard that Bohmeier feared for his safety, as though he hadn’t been doing exactly that for weeks already! The couple hadn’t parted on good terms, and Bohmeier had had to pay a succession of lawyers a fortune to get him primary custody of their son, but he thought it might be churlish to mention that to God — who, when he thought about it, probably already knew, being omniscient and everything.

“Is there anything else?” God wondered in a tone that suggested Bohmeier ought to burst into his own tears of relief and make for his cubicle.

Bohmeier thought the opportunity too good to pass up. He moved himself to the edge of his chair to indicate that he didn’t intend to stay long, and asked why God rewarded persons like Donald Trump with great material comfort and beautiful sexual partners while allowing innocent children to die horribly in wars, or of agonising diseases. God rolled his eyes as he stubbed out his cigarette on the inside of Janine’s metal rubbish bin. “You didn’t get the memo that I work in mysterious ways?” he asked, his tone full of censure.

Walking back to his cubicle, Bohmeier thought of, “10 Most Horrible Juvenile Diseases — No. 7 Will Shock You”. It turned out to elicit the company’s highest click-thru rate of the year to date.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Love Child Springsteen and Katy Perry Won't Talk About

I know Muslims are mostly (some, I assume, are good people) terrorists and murderers  who believe in female genital mutiliation and sharia law and shit, not necessarily in that order, but they’re OK in my book, and you know why? Because without them, I probably wouldn’t of gotten my Transportation Security Administration airport screening job, and made my family so proud and shit. I’m the first member of my family to ever be more than a security guard, and we haven’t even had one of those since my grandpa. My dad flunked out of the security guard academy after he got back from Vietnam, and for most of his career held up signs advertising fast food (Subway, McDonald’s, and what-have-you) on busy corners downtown, and sometimes passing out leaflets, which he didn’t like much because most people wouldn’t take one, and it was humiliating, which is why Moms thought he started drinking and shit.

The TSA won’t take just anybody, you know, and you have pass random drug tests, and you don’t even know when they’re going to be. The job’s a lot more demanding than being a security guard, or handing out flyers, but I’m not going to pretend I don’t love it. Before I quit high school, I wasn’t exactly in “the in crowd”. I had pretty severe skin problems, and wasn’t much of an athlete, and nobody much noticed me except when one of the jocks needed lunch money, and he’d come over and say, “Yo, Pizzaface, how about you give me a couple of bucks and I don’t pull your jeans down around your ankles in front of everybody?” But now, thanks to my official TSA uniform and badge and shit, the tables are turned, and I’m the one doing the intimidating. 

Somebody who looks like he might have been a jock or in crowd type in high school comes through my little area, I make the fucker wish he’d never been born. Will you please take your shoes off, sir? And now your socks too? Step back and walk through again, please. You didn’t hear the buzzer? Well, when did you last have your hearing examined , sir?  I heard it, sir, and I'm the one who counts here. LMFAO.

The one thing I don’t like is that we’re supposed to call everybody sir (except for the women, of course) and say please a lot, but unless one of the supervisors with a stick up their ass is around, nobody actually does it.

Oh, sure, every once in while you’ll get some smartass who demands to be spoken to politely, but every TSA person who’s been on the job for longer than an hour knows how to shut them up in a hurry. You smile and say, “Do you want to make your flight or not, sir?” Shuts them right up every time! LMFAO.

You meet some interesting people, and some really weird ones. Just before Christmas, I had this Down syndrome type guy who took his tongue out while he was waiting to come through the metal detector. I swear to God! At first I thought it was an optical illusion, or whatever, but then he did it again. I guess that’s what the politically correct crowd mean when they describe somebody as “differently abled”. LOL. 

Speaking of political, before the election, you’d be surprised how many people wearing Hilary Clinton buttons missed their flights. There aren’t a lot of libtards at the TSA. I can promise you that. After President Trump's started making America great again, I'll be surprised if there's any at all! 

No job’s without its hazards, of course. Sometimes, right in the middle of patting down somebody who set off the metal detector, they’ll say something like, “Ooh, I like that!” or wink at you or something. It’s embarrassing as hell for someone like me, who doesn’t have an LGBT bone in his body, but even less of those types get to their gates on time than Hilary voters.

Have a nice flight. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

An Open Letter to Pete Townshend

As I approached (legal) manhood, you were my idol. For being violent and gentle and hideous and gorgeous and heartbreaking and hilarious and tuneful and tumultuous and scary and stylish and thrilling, I loved your band beyond my ability to express. There were countless hundreds of guitarists whose conventional technical abilities exceeded your own by miles, guitarists who, as Jon Mark would later say in reference to Marc Bolan, could play “better” with their toes. But you did something none of them had done — invented your own sort of virtuosity. No one had ever made rhythm guitar playing into such a spectacle. The superhuman gall of that! Physically, with your matchstick-man physique and huge nose, you reminded me of the Disney visualisation of Ichabod Crane, the central character in Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. You were as far from a conventional frankiebobby pop pretty boy as it was humanly possible to be, and yet you had the colossal audacity to demand the audience’s attention, as no rock and roll sideman ever had before, forever upstaging a lead singer who strongly felt the group to be his own. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

The hippest rock DJ in LA invited your group to do an on-air interview during its first visit to the West Coast. I hurried to the Hollywood Blvd. studio from which he broadcast and waited on the stairs outside, hoping to catch a glimpse of you. When you appeared, I, overcome by shyness, tried to make it appear that hanging around on that staircase was the most natural thing in the world. By the time the interview was over, I’d summoned my courage, and spoke to you when you emerged from the studio. I gave you some lyrics I’d written. You were kind and gracious. Your brilliant blue eyes mesmerised me. I don’t know how I kept from fainting. Two years later, I skipped my own graduation from university to meet you formally, and to interview you.

As the rest of the world — the Great Unwashed — came to love your group, it ceased to be the apple of my own eye. Your having mothballed your gold sequinned jacket and frilly shirt in favour of a janitor's coveralls was hilarious, and A Real Statement — for around five minutes. You grew a beard — a beard, Pete! Your group’s music became…well, bloated. Everything was high-concept. Songs lasted forever. You’d grown a beard, and couldn’t shut up. The most common tagline on the rock magazine covers of the 1970s was Part 4 of Our Exclusive Interview With Pete Townshend.

I tried to persuade you to produce my band. You were steadfast in your refusal. We settled for the guy who’d wind up producing your own All the Best Cowboys solo album. Our correspondence on the matter so amused Jann Wenner that he wanted to publish it. I was steadfast in my refusal.

I loved you still, though, and dared hope that a corner of your heart would always remain mine. When you came to Los Angeles, we would walk hand in hand on the beach in Santa Monica, your eyes looking nearly as beautiful in moonlight as they had on the stairs leading up to KFWB all those years before. Do you remember our quiet nights in, darling, the two of us and our dogs Fender and Marshall cuddled on the sofa, watching Rock Concert in the 1970s and then MTV in the 1980s? I shall never forget them.

Maybe not. When I re-re-repatriated to the UK last autumn to launch a quixotic quest for rock stardom with my new band The Freudian Sluts — at my age! — I invited you to come see us at the Fox & Duck, sort of halfway between our two homes. You declined, offering the rather wan explanation that you would be touring America. I was crestfallen, as I had hoped to introduce you to Andrew and Sheathy, themselves past admirers of your work. I think my stature would have grown in their eyes, and you might very well have liked them, or at least Andrew. (Sheathy, long since urged to join someone else's band, isn’t lovely company.) You mentioned me in your autobiography, falsely crediting me with helping to…shape Tommy.

It's 2017 now. I suspect your tour has long since concluded, and that you are free to come see us at the Alba in Twickenham, 10 minutes from your home, on 14th, 20th, or 27th January. You may bring a guest. You may bring several. Indeed, your doing so would probably make us look good to the pub’s management.

I so look forward to catching up.