Thursday, December 31, 2009


In Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, Hunter S. Thompson fearing a Republican victory in 1970, said that all it would prove is that we are really nothing but a nation of 180 million used car salesmen. He was right. Only now that we've increased in number, we are a nation of 320 million used car salesmen.

Once upon a time we were gentler by comparison. On the face of it, capitalism seems like a good idea. I build an airplane and if it's a good one, you buy it for cost plus a reasonable profit for me so that I may buy groceries and feed my kids. If I make a bunch of these good airplanes, you pay me a bunch of money and I can buy a lot more groceries plus whatever else I want. Once I've got food, water, and a warm place to go to the bathroom, I should be happy and if building airplanes is what I really love to do, I continue building and selling them. It's a pretty simple equation.

Except it's not. Sooner or later someone notices all the money I'm making building good airplanes and decides he wants in on it. This guy does not love airplanes. He loves money. He loves making it, he loves parlaying it. He loves the deal. If he's amoral he loves the swindle, but the problem with modern capitalism is that people adept in the swindle are no longer considered morally suspect. Modern capitalism is unbridled capitalism. Free market economists think this is a good thing, that bridling a capitalist will restrict his creativity and the economic growth it engenders and that society will ultimately suffer.

There's something to this. For the average person to innovate, he's got to have a reason and that reason is invariably personal gain. Maybe he wants more free time. Maybe he wants a sports car. Maybe he wants good educations for his kids. There's nothing wrong with this. When I finally sell a novel, I'm going to rush right out and buy a reasonable sound system for my house. And I'm going to hire Esther back to clean said house. I'll even let her play her Mexican polka music on my new sound system. But only if I'm not home.

This is healthy capitalism. My increased wealth increases both Esther's and the sound system vendor's wealth. Unhealthy capitalism springs from non-average persons. The greedy bastards whose entire existences revolve around stockpiling as much wealth as possible for themselves and annihilating anyone who gets in their way.

There's a big difference between healthy capitalism and unbridled capitalism. For millions of years hominids were hunter gatherers. Mostly this worked out okay but due to the vagaries of nature, it could occasionally be disastrous. Human beings learned to stockpile necessities in anticipation of these hard times. The agricultural revolution was born and in times of want, it was the agriculturalists with their silos full of grain that survived while the hunter gatherers did not.

A major byproduct of this development, was greed. The more you had, the less chance there was of you and your family starving. My personal theory is that this gene was selected for. I think all people surviving today have a greed gene. Logic dictates that the genetic lines of people without it, have died out.

And the people with the strongest greed genes have thrived. This is why you get a lot more Bernie Madhoffs than Mother Teresa's.

But while capitalism is a viable economic system, it makes a very bad religion. Americans will scream up and down that we are not a theocracy but I disagree. But the name of God isn't Jehovah, or Alla, or Jesus. The name of God is Money. On the dollar bill where it says, "in God we Trust," it's really just saying, "You can believe in this thing."
And while American culture has swallowed this religion hook, line, and sinker, it is a completely empty one. The deification of money has made us a people possessed of a deep and abiding emptiness and malaise.

You can eat as many McBurgers as you like and still feel empty. You can buy fast cars but all you're going to get is where you're going faster, and you're still going to be stuck with yourself. You can have a big house and no matter how much junk you buy, still have nothing but a bunch of empty rooms.

In Buddhist teachings there is something called a hungry ghost. It's usually depicted as nothing but a stem of flesh and a big mouth. For the simplicity of its look, it's scary as hell. All a hungry ghost wants to do is eat and eat and eat, but it is never satiated. Greedy people, so say the Buddhists, get reincarnated as hungry ghosts.

Yet what other destiny can there be for a people who genuinely believe in Money as God? People who've internalized the idea that you can buy anything you want, even spiritual enlightenment, or so they believe. The thousands of self help gurus out there and the millions they rake in are testament to that as are cable TV preachers wresting handfuls of cash from the poorest of the poor and all the other charlatans out there. We've internalized the idea that we can buy anything we want to the degree that I don't even think most people know it. Our whole psychology is engineered toward the payoff. Even this latest craze, this "Law of Attraction" shit, the idea that if you meditated and visualize the things you want and the way you want your life to look, it's yours for the having. (n.b. Why don't some of these Law of Attraction gurus go to Somalia and teach some of those children to stop attracting starvation and attract ham sandwiches instead? They spend a few years doing that and I promise, if it works, even I'll buy their fucking book.) That's not what meditation's for. Meditation's for learning to live with yourself and others in a compassionate way. It's for learning how to stop being so fucking insane.

When I think of all these things it makes me wonder if we made a huge mistake having ever invented the grain silo or domesticated an animal.

The current recession we're suffering is horrible. I feel for my friends who've lost their jobs, their homes, their vehicles. For the most part, they're not to blame. The company that overextended itself had to cut back and lay off employees. Huge mortgages dependent on huge incomes could not be paid when one partner lost his job. The bubble has burst and misery has ensued. I've never known a time in which so many people feel so hopeless and scared.

But if anything good can come out of all this, perhaps that good will be the recognition of a false god. Maybe, just maybe, if reasonable and intelligent people can succeed in grabbing the reins of the economic system run amok and hobbling the greedy bastards that caused all this, room can be made for other gods. My greatest hope is that whoever they are, they are good, and that the hungry ghosts can all go home.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Male Menopause

Male Menopause

(n.b. I’m just doing hetero here, cuz I am one and don’t feel like wrestling with pronouns.)

They say men don’t have menopause, but they do. This is a little acknowledged fact, mostly by men since they don’t want anybody to know. It’s very important to a man to see himself as virile and studly. As ever ready to go.

And this is mostly true, of all men from a very young age. Experts differ on exactly what age that is. But having raised not one but two male children I can say without fear of contradiction that the days they found their willies were the second happiest days of their lives; the first being when they found the titty. Little boys will wank away at that thing with a look of such idiotic elation on their faces you feel like the biggest killjoy on planet Earth putting the diaper back on.

But once males get older there is no stopping them. They will do virtually anything to insert said willy into any unsuspecting female they can talk into it. This creates a definitive gendorial, (is that a word? It should be) rub, so to speak. Girls are acculturated with all kinds of lies about both men and sex. Our bedtime stories full of handsome princes riding up on white stallions and sweeping us off our feet with only our best interests at heart. These men will love and protect us from all the evils of the world and having sexual congress with them is defined as a sacred, almost magical act. Cinderella’s prince ministers at her feet, and it fits just perfectly. Sleeping Beauty is awakened only by her true love. Beauty’s womanly kindness and understanding transforms The Beast into an uxorious and faithful prince. Ad infinitum, or to those non-Latin speakers: it goes on for fucking ever.

So by the time most women actually have sex, it’s like biting into a hamburger and finding a slab of cold spam. It isn’t what we thought it would be at all. And of course, they never call us in the morning, even though they promise they will.

How do I know all this? Women talk. They talk about size, they talk about technique. They talk about curves, to the left and to the right. They talk about stroke and duration, about scent and hygiene. Nothing’s worse than going down on a guy who pays insufficient hygienic attention to his southern equatorial regions. And for all of you who complain about truncated and halfassed blowjobs, physician heal thyself. Nobody wants to suck on something that smells like a Mexican train station.

But there’s one aspect of female sexuality that men don’t understand, at least when they’re young. Generally, a woman is incapable of orgasm without some level of emotional involvement and trust in her partner. This is true from the time she becomes a sexual being.

And it creeps into male sexuality at about the age of forty. Of course, western sexual enculturation being what it is, vis a viz: boneheaded and shallow, men have never been informed of this eventuality. So when they’ve had a hard day at work: say they’ve had to fire somebody they really like, or the power point presentation they’d planned so very meticulously, goes caddywhompas because the computer crashes, at the end of the day when their partner wants to get close and cuddly, they can’t get it up, or if they do manage that, they can’t come.

This freaks them out. They feel disappointed and inadequate. They feel as if they’ve failed. Nobody ever told them this would happen.

Women, on the other hand, have had it happening their entire lives. But unlike men, woman can fake both arousal and orgasm. Most women know that when they’ve had a really stressful day, it is going to effect their ability to come. But they don’t want their partner to feel as if it is his fault so they fake it. Sally was right. Harry was wrong.

What often happens at this point in a man’s life is that he buys a sports car, motorcycle, or takes up with a younger woman. He doesn’t know what has happened to him, ergo, it must be his partner’s fault. She is just not sexy anymore.

The other thing that happens, all part of male menopause, is that the nature of a man’s erection changes. It simply doesn’t get as hard as it used to. This is particularly bad in men with reduced peripheral blood flow often caused by smoking or shitty, too many buffalo wings and ribs, diets. But even a comparatively healthy man can find his erections less hard than they used to be, occasionally resembling a loaf of damp French bread.

This is normal.

As is alcohol creating problems. When a guy is young, a few beers gets him all hopped up and raring to go. When he’s a little older the anesthetic effect of too much booze can not only knock him off his game but like nicotine, it constricts peripheral blood flow. Not good if you’re looking to play the stud.

Henry Miller, AKA, the most sexually pretentious western writer to ever gum up his typewriter, used to bemoan the fact that he was sex obsessed as a young man and that his greatest wish was that with age, it would wane. Alas and alas, it did not, he wrote, and he was hounded by Priapus all the way to the grave.

It is my considered opinion, though obviously I can’t really know, that he was a liar liar, pants not-really-on-fire. He just wanted googly eyed female grad students to continue jumping into his bed. Even if he wasn’t going to get around all the bases, at least he was still going to give it the old college try, so to speak.

The ironic and truly absurd thing about all of this is that, while I can’t speak for everybody, I’ve talked to a lot of women and for the most part, they don’t care. A woman’s own menopause creates a profound change in her own sexuality and therefore a tendency to be more understanding of others. Nothing stays the same. Not steel girded bridges, not mountains, not the sea or the sky. The human body if full of erogenous zones and at the risk of sounding hackneyed, the greatest is the mind. (although the palm of the had, the armpit, and of course nipples, can be good too.)
And if that doesn’t work, hell, a stiff dick can be purchased at the sex toy store for, like, fifteen bucks. And if that fails, there’s always Viagra, although, I’d save that for the twenty year old girlfriends. Not many women I know over forty want to be banged away at for four hours.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I am seduced
by ruddy ducks and murres diving beneath the rolling whitecaps
as my breath
against a rain-spattered window
condenses in warmth and fog.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Totally Mental

I just watched a program on TV about hoarding. A woman not only saved her trash, she saved her shit. Bags and bags of it. She had bypassed the toilet for so many years that the piss and shit had eaten a hole through the floor.

But I fucking love human psychopathology. For awhile, I loved psychopaths. How can somebody have no feelings about what they do to other people? Do most people realize that there are individuals whose entire lives are dedicated to fucking up other people's lives. It's the only thing that makes them feel like they matter. These people often influence our daily lives. They are CEO's, CFO's, housepainters, electricians, artists, school teachers. Some of them work in restaurants, hocking lugies in people's burgers when they think no one is looking. Some of them are good with computers and create horrible viruses causing hard drives to melt and life support systems in hospitals to stop working. They cause traffic signals to fail and funds to disappear from peoples' bank accounts.

Narcissistic Personality Disorders are good too. For a true narcissist, if he isn't the center of attention all the time he feels as if the rug has been pulled out from under him, or like he's falling down an elevator shaft. If you get a stomach cramp in his presence and make a face as a result, he will interpret it to mean that you don't like him and will either become immeasurably sad or determined to get revenge. It's all a continuum because everything is about him. Narcissistic personality disorders and psychopathy flow right into each other.

But Hoarding disorders? I can understand a lightweight type; people who save too many plastic bags, for instance, because what if they need one for-- I don't know, whatever it is people use plastic bags for-- but diapers full of your own shit? Of what possible use could that ever be?

Although "shit," like "fuck," is an important metaphor. I need to get my shit together. Enough of that shit. I'll beat the living shit out of you. You wanna smoke some of this shit. Is this something Jungian that I don't understand? Of what use could loads of human shit ever be to anyone?

But maybe there's something deeper here. Something I'm missing. When one of my kids was little, he was okay with shitting in his diaper, but when I told him he had to do it in the toilet you would have thought I'd asked him to climb Mt. Everest. No fucking way. That kid wouldn't take a shit for 4 days. The very idea of watching it swirl around and vanish forever down the toilet was simply too much for him.

What is it about shit?

But I guess a hoarding disorder is a mental illness. Those others are personality disorders. The difference between a mental illness and a personality disorder is that a mental illness can be treated; a personality disorder cannot.

That is all. I don't have to form a conclusion or wrap any of this up with a bow. This is a blog, the bastard child of an essay; forever up to no good, forever leaving someone waiting for something.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Blogging Up a Storm

I'm really blogging tonight. I don't have some witty idea about anything to write about, nor some comprehensive notion of an essay. All I have is tiredness from a soul crushing job in which I feel like a killer whale swimming amongst herring. My boss looks like a frog and since he's mostly unconscious, doesn't recognize that when he says what's on his mind it's called "sexual harrassment." Sometimes I go over and work in the outpatient clinic. I like it there much better. There are twin obese women there and they look so much alike: hair, weight, clothing choices and skin color, that I can barely tell them apart. The other woman there is a perky lesbian. They are all very nice.

There's something that happens to people that never go out in the sun. They take on the color of the same flourscent lights they're beneath all day. The whites of their eyes blend into their eyelids, and no matter what color eye shadow they put on, it looks green. Their real lives are all outside of what they spend a third of their day doing. Maybe they dote on their children, maybe they dote on ice cream. Maybe the dote on Hugh Laurie.

I had a dream last night about running in a wheel. Mice and rats running forever around in circles, only they thought they were going somewhere. Somewhere in their minds they knew they weren't, but they colored all that into a washed out gray/white, where all the eye shadow looks green and the orbs of their eyes blend in to the pallid color of their skin.