US-VOTE-REPUBLICANS-DEBATE
Republican Presidential cultists  consider new ways to fuck things up for us.

Today’s blog post is an experiment in randomizing writing prompts. I took to Facebook and asked my friends to pick a major and minor subject of this post.

I was inspired to do this by a category of contest in formal speech & debate called Extemporaneous Debate. I’ve only done it once or twice, but it’s a lot of fun. The way it works is like this: random topics have to be synthesized into a coherent speech by the speaker, no research is allowed and the speech must be given on the spot.

Prompts are usually yelled out by the audience. Wilder prompts make for better speeches. The trick is to just go for whatever is obvious from the jump and try to be funny. I’ve never seen anyone do well with this game by playing it straight or being serious.

boomers
Two humorless old coots explain how much more of your money they will need to reduce your freedom.

The always-witty Dr. Sarah Headland contributed, “the rise in popularity of crunch”, which I am free to interpret as I wish. San Francisco’s best personal trainer, Matt Trip, offered the timely and trollish, “no one is discussing Israel and Palestine in the presidential election.”

The subject to this post is something like: Does the rise of (political) crunchiness account for the perceived lack of discussion of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict in the 2016 presidential race?

NOTE: in keeping with the spirit of the debate rules, I’m writing this without any research, in one go. Any inaccuracies are due to this being a stream-of-consciousness first draft, not the usual laziness. Here it goes.

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For some reason I don’t imagine these guys are Mel Brooks fans.

I’ve been thinking a lot about speech and debate lately, one of my favorite classes. While I was cranking through junior college I didn’t have any real sort of political orientation. I vaguely identified as a libertarian (and in some ways still do), but my environmental concerns were always a wedge between orthodox conservatism and me.

While preparing for an in-class debate, I read a book called Crunchy Cons: The New Conservative Counterculture and Its Return to Roots by Rod Dreher. Despite being a pretty corny book, it had a major impact on me. It follows a familiar formula for contrarian political biographies, one where the author advocates for a left or right position, while trotting out an unusual twist. Some examples might be “I’m a gun loving gay socialist” or “I’m an Evangelical Christian businessman and I love Obamacare.” This is a great strategy for book sales because it lets you biangulate between audiences, appealing to more people.

 

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Behold, the most dangerous man on Grindr.

In Crunchy Cons, Dreher tries to square his mainstream conservative values with his tendency to shop at farmers markets and enjoy all the crunchy granola goodness one would expect the average Bernie Sanders devotee to traffic in.

When I came across this book in 2006 I had already begun working farmers markets and I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the people who ranched and farmed held to some of the conservative values that appeal to me: a passion for smaller, more localized government, a basic belief in personal responsibility, optimism about free markets, suspicion of leftist controlled Federal agencies, a desire to keep hard earned money out of the hands of the Military Industrial Complex and other social loafers, and a passion for firearms.

Some of these farmers market folks were hard line GOP types, but most line up with a demographic I heard a friend of mine call “Rainbow Rednecks.” They’re into all the normal conservative stuff, but add an a la carte support for things like gay marriage, cannabis legalization, and even hold some relatively progressive views on immigration, owed to their reliance on immigrant farm labor.

jesus

Mainstream Libertarians believe the free market solves everything, but I’m not sure it does. Companies that externalize the costs of environmental damage probably need some sort of mechanism in place to check them against being total dicks. If you’ve ever seen the giant pools of feces and blood near pig slaughtering or watched interviews with fishermen near any of the major oil spills, you know there are industries that count the destruction of wild places as part of the cost of doing business.

The court system occasionally holds people responsible for malicious or accidental destruction of natural resources, but in most cases no one sees any jail time. Whatever government oversees the damaged land typically levies a fine, which often ends up settled. I respect the legal process, but I don’t understand how you can honestly calculate the financial cost of destroying a beautiful place. If there’s sin, it can be found in the decision to eradicate our magnificent land in favor of profit.

Conservation used to be a conservative cause. Teddy Roosevelt, my favorite president, killed an awful lot of God’s creatures, but he also laid the foundation of a robust parks system and inculcated the nation with ideas about what we ought to do with our wild places. Roosevelt was pragmatic about maintaining a fecund economy, but he knew the wild was priceless.

teddy-moose-P
Teddy Roosevelt was the greatest president of all time.

More than anything, I wish we had something like a Bull Moose Party candidate for 2016. After a dustup with the Republicans, Roosevelt split the party and ran a third party dedicated to a fairly sensible mix of Republicanism and Progressivism.

Around the time Dreher’s book came out people were still figuring out what it meant to be Libertarian. Celebrities like Bill Maher and Doug Stanhope said they were Libertarian. At the same time, Rand Paul was flying the flag. For a long time it was imply short hand for, “I don’t give a fuck what you do as long as it doesn’t raise my taxes or keep weed and guns from being legal.”

Then 2008 happened. After the economy went south, we saw the rise of the Tea Party in 2009. For every educated Constitutional scholar in that crowd, there are fifty mouth breathing sweat pants aficionados. Libertarianism quickly became the party of tri-corner hats and Call of Duty cosplayers with border control fetishes.

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What the Tea Party lacks in logic or common sense, it makes up for in hyperbole.

Recently there’s a funnier, Internet based brand of conservatism called Cultural Libertarianism. It combines a passion for free speech at any cost with an impish urge to reenact Michael P. Keaton style Reaganism. Most of these folks busy themselves with arguing about social justice virtue signaling and the radical left’s wholesale indoctrination of the young and gullible college students who will doubtlessly fail our country at war making and business building.

Thankfully, this mutation of the movement seems to be smarter and much funnier than the old cousin fuckers who came out in force to support Sarah Palin’s cretinism. Unfortunately they seem completely comfortable doubling down on the stuff Republicans have been falling on their swords over for years.

Leftists saw their own version of this in the Occupy movement and in the political alignments of philosopher Slavoj Zizek. In a speech worth listening to (if you can tolerate the creepy People’s Microphone), Zizek advises the left to be careful not to fall in love with itself, because doing so will prevent the activist from coming up with whatever ought to come after Capitalism.

Zizek fails at anything even close to prescription. He essentially threw up his hands and reverted back to advocating of the kind of Communism he grew up under in what is now called Slovenia. With everything Zizek, you have to consider that you might be listening to theory, but you’re probably listening to a comedy routine. This is more or less what the Cultural Libertarians are up to (at least the funny ones on Twitter and YouTube).

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Presidential politics have been an absolute gold mine for comedians and pundits this year. Trump and Sanders have made this one of the most fun to watch elections in history and they’ve done it by concentrating on what the American people really care about, which brings me to the other half of the writing prompt: Israel and Palestine.

We’re not likely to hear much about the Middle East outside of who will do a better job of teabagging ISIS with our great-feathered American bald eagle balls.

People don’t seem to have raised any concerns about the conflict between Israel and Palestine in this election cycle. Partly I think that has to do with a basically pro-Israel stance from all candidates. Even if they were’ already on board, I imagine no one wants to put himself or herself in the difficult position of defending Palestine, whose government has long suspected ties to Islamic terror, which is kind of a problem right now. It makes sense that our candidates have effectively tabled this issue.

The whole idea of needing to choose a side between Israel and Palestine sucks. I know the Israeli government is the one I’d prefer to live under if I moved to the Middle East, but I’ve met Jews and Arabs and they’re both pretty  cool people. Hell, they each make falafels and hummus, which are absolutely delicious.

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This is what I imagine anti-American sentiment in the Middle East would look like if it was imagined as an episode of Friends.

I remember a couple of years ago Joe Rogan and comedian Duncan Trussell were talking about a pair of emails they received. One was from a Jew and the other was from an Arab. They were both listening to the Joe Rogan podcast while hiding from rockets and mortars sent from the other side. Each expressed how the show was helping them deal with the fighting. Neither was aware of the other’s existence, but they were having the same experience at nearly the same time.

That is remarkable. Two men from enemy nations were enjoying the ramblings of a stoner cage fighting commentator and his hippy buddy while the politicians in charge of the dirt they hang out on top of sent young people to kill each other over some Bronze age gods.

The politicians in Israel and Palestine are cock faces just like the ones representing us and they should be ashamed of every word they utter that causes discord and death. But that’s not how these reptilian fucks play the game. They divide us up over dumb shit and keep us blind to how similar each other’s falafels are.

No matter which angry desert god is the true god, the people of the Middle East should be allowed to make peace without their asshole leaders getting in the way. Hopefully whichever evil clown we choose as quarterback will help chill those dorks out.

israel 1
Adam Sandler would be my top choice for Ambassador to Israel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dating 1

Last night I realized I have the perfect qualifications for offering relationship advice on a blog. I’ve been broken hearted and I’ve broken hearts. I’ve been in a successful relationship for fifteen years. I saw all kinds of love related nonsense during my many years as a bartender in both straight and gay establishments. Most importantly, I have a blog.

These questions were gathered from my Facebook feed. I’m keeping them anonymous here, but if we’re friends on Facebook, you can head over to the thread and weigh in.

When a relationship stalls, how do you know if the problem is “you” or “them”?

Generally relationship stalling means one thing: side dick. Your dating partner is likely pressing pause on that ass to survey the field. If your cookies are sweeter, expect a return of some sort. If it’s stalling because of you, just be honest with yourself and either friend zone the person or be clear that their time is short.

date 2
Love is when they pretend to like your dumb shit.

As a 42 year old, fit, fairly educated, professional, independent minded, rational, agreeable and accommodating gay man, the pool of datable/single men is dramatically shrinking. I have always put myself out there with ease but I’m losing interest in the pursuit of relationships altogether. Do I start collecting cats?

As a dog person, I’ll start by saying this: cats are never the answer. You start with one, pretty soon it has a friend, then you’re like “why not pick up another kitten?” Around the fourth cat, your house really stars to take on that litterbox smell. Now you’ve just eliminated people with allergies from your dating pool.

The upside is that cat people seem to be very loyal and if you are left only with a pool of undesirables who happen to like cats, you’ll at least have one thing in common. And sometimes, that’s enough.

Dating is fucking stupid… why should I give a flying fuck?

There are three reasons to date. First, you are simply trying to fulfill your primate urges to rub your monkey parts on something soft. Second, you are auditioning a life partner to ensure they can be relied on to pay bills and be tolerable when things aren’t fun. Third, dating keeps our economy afloat. Without dating, our restaurant, booze and narcotic industries would collapse.

date 3
How did we all just agree to let this slide like it was no biggie?

I’ve been historically gay, except for a few women who I had crushes on and banged in my early twenties. In the vein of wanting a more fluid sexuality, I think I want to try dating women again. How do I go about this? Are online tools as vapid and disappointing as gay ones?

Presumably you’ve been gay for sometime, so I’m going to assume you have minimal experience with dating women. If your only goal is to reduce the viscosity of your sexual identification, I can’t recommend women. They are a lot of trouble. Try starting with a furry or some kind of otherkin with low self esteem. That will provide you with hours of entertainment and you’ll probably never have to answer the question “does this make me look fat?”

In San Francisco, there is a terrible shortage of decent dudes. It’s mostly creepy, narcissistic momma’s boys in hoodies. If you want to clean up dating women, all you’re really going to have to do is have an ok job and answer phone calls or texts in a timely manner.

I hear the dating app scene is worse for straights. With gay hook up apps, vapidity seems to be a feature, not a bug. You press a button, belt buckles hit the floor, you high five or whatever, and go about your day. Straight women seem to treat it as the opening chess move in a volatile game of psychic domination.

You probably shouldn’t listen to me at all on this one as I’m straight and have been married since before computers were a part of sexual selection.

date 5
If you haven’t though about punching someone’s ticket, you’re not really in love.

There are casual relationships I never had closure to so that I can selfishly revisit them in between legit attempts at real relationships so that I can see if they may be worth pursuing when I have a different perspective, or maybe it’s to see if I’m just desperate enough to settle… I dunno.Is that fucked up?

Yes, this is fucked up. You are a happiness sniper. You can only redeem this behavior by negotiating an equitable three-way with all parties and ghosting at the end.

Is ghosting really THAT bad? Isn’t saying nothing, really saying something profound?

If you can make sure you don’t care about the ghosted person’s feelings at all and don’t mind the idea of them going through life wondering what happened, then it’s not that bad.

I believe it’s better to achieve profundity with the truth. In this case you might be forthright and say something like, “look, the D is bomb, but you have a lame job, no future and your house smells like cats. I’m out.”

That’s the polite thing to do.

date 4
Some people are just better at life.

If I like someone and can’t tell if they have an interest in me, I write them off immediately. Is this practical?

It depends on the quality and quantity of your incoming options. If time is short and there’s a river of ass flowing your way, fuck ‘em. If it’s a dry period and you’re interested, it’s best to be direct and say something like, “I’m DTF, what’s up?”

I really want to participate in life, but I have procrastination issues, and I get distracted easily. Have you heard where ü feat Justin Bieber? The new Dodge Dart… sexy or the retro trash talk of design language?

Chances are you were wired that way from childhood. It’s what Saturday morning cartoons and cereal do to your brain. I find that making lists or taking knockoff Chinese Provigil helps with my procrastination. You might want to try something like that.

I haven’t heard that Justin Bieber song. The new Dodge Dart is pretty weak in my opinion. It doesn’t have the same aggressively goofy muscle car charm of the new Charger or Challenger, and the engine isn’t all that.

Why are people so fucking lazy and ambivalent in their own pursuits of happiness? I don’t want to be someone’s happiness! Why can’t I meet men who are just fucking happy?

Think about the population of humans and how unimpressive the average is. Mathematically speaking, half of them are worse than the average. That means there are billions of awful people out there.

I think the thing to do is make sure you don’t catch too many losses from life and keep an eye out for someone who isn’t the slowest antelope.

date 6
You ever notice how couples eventually dress the same?

How does the “50-50” mentality hinders intimacy in a relationship?

I thought this was code for some kind of bisexuality until I looked it up. In my own relationship, I know life flow smoother when we are not dividing things up on a ledger and being emotional accountants. That said, you have to have absolute trust in the person and a history of them (or you) not fucking up to move past thinking of yourselves as mercenary units in a temporary alliance. We all start at 50/50, but it takes work to go all in. If you aren’t both on board, it will fail.

Does being in a relationship mean finding quiet resignation and settling? Sometimes that is what it seems like.

That’s exactly what it’s like. There are no soul mates and there is no such thing as perfect. So in reality, you’re going to settle no matter what. The trick is to not settle with someone who drives you to look up untraceable poisons on the Internet.

My boyfriend and I argue endlessly over which way round the toilet paper roll should go. It’s brought us to the brink several times. How can we resolve this once and for all and focus on the things we love about each other?

Whoever refills the roll is correct.

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Before Grindr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dali

I adore speculating about absurd things. What would you do if you won the lottery, but could only buy blue things? Would you rather fight a thousand 6″ Manny Pacquiaos or one giant Grumpy Cat? If you could replace one member of the Beatles before they were famous with Freddy Mercury, who would it be?

It’s best to come up with these questions on the fly,  when you your mind is loose. The ideal way to answer them is quickly and impulsively.

If you haven’t guessed already, I’m sort of dialing this blog post in, but hey, that’s ok.

Absent a really great idea for today, I will simply answer the questions Vanity Fair asked Ellen Degeneres on her Proust Questionnaire. Here we go.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Books, coffee and having nothing that needs immediate attention.

What is your greatest fear? Dying before my wife. Or her dying before me. I can’t tell which is worse.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Mark Twain.

Which living person do you most admire? My dad, for his kindness.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Laziness.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Laziness.

What is your greatest extravagance? The Internet.

What is your favorite journey? I like going home to New Orleans.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Humility.

What do you dislike most about your appearance? My bottom teeth and what’s left of the gums around them.

Which living person do you most despise? One of my wife’s ex-friends.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Super, motherfucker,  I don’t know.

What is your greatest regret? Not writing more.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My wife.

Which talent would you most like to have? I’d like to be able to fight like Jason Bourne.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? Their retirement plans.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? I get paid to write things.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A robotic librarian working on a rare books collection.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Interacting with liars and dullards.

What is your most marked characteristic? I talk too much.

What do you most value in your friends? Gallows humor.

Who are your favorite writers? Jack London, Bill Watterson, Hunter S. Thompson, J.K. Rowling, Ernest Becker, Taneda Santoka, Christopher Hitchens, James Baldwin, Dale Carnegie, China Mieville, Shel Silverstein, I could do this all day I’ll stop now.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Han Solo

What are your favorite names? Albert, Margot, Ezekiel, Jedediah, Lacy, Orville.

What is it that you most dislike? Virtue signaling from the willfully ignorant

How would you like to die? Rich.

What is your motto? Persistence beats resistance.

 

vegan guy

Last night I went to Stanford to watch John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods Market, and Bruce Friedrich, an old school animal rights advocate, debate two members of the Stanford debate team. The specific question asked in the debate was “is eating meat ethical?”

I think about this question constantly. I’ve read a ton of stuff from all the major animal rights thinkers, I’ve been to many ranches, I’ve seen animals slaughtered, I’ve rocked a vegan diet for years at a time, and I’ve watched countless youtube videos and debates about the subject. I’m about as informed on the subject as you might want to get and this is where I stand: it’s probably better not to eat meat, but I still eat meat for no better reason than I like the taste, which is, on the surface, a very poor reason from an ethical standpoint. Though, I’ve been thinking about the possibility of an aesthetic angle that shifts the calculus of the argument a bit. Right now it’s not that good of an argument.

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If you’re competing in a formal debate setting, arguing in favor of eating meat is pretty difficult. The vast majority of the science seems to back up veganism as the healthiest and most utilitarian diet available. Your paleo/Crossfit types can usually be counted on to bring up some blogger debunkings of The China Study (which have also been debunked in a kind of Inception of debunking, it’s just turtles all the way down man) or a fringe definition of health that cheers for cholesterol and whatnot. I’ve read all that stuff as well, but it just doesn’t seem to be as vetted as the mainstream science.

Pro-meat people generally do one of two things in a debate. First, they try to prove that meat is actually not all that harmful to your health or the environment.  They might even concede that though some meat is bad, there are some magical meats so nutritious you’d be a dumb ass not to eat them. These arguments are usually easy to argue against if the opposition and audience aren’t too opposed to mainstream science.

Second, they’ll walk out some kind argument that relies on the fact that humans have eaten meat all throughout history, on every continent, and that it’s our god given right to eat all of JEHOVAH’s creatures. These arguments are much more interesting because they get into our history and our future as a species. If there is a possibility to make an aesthetic case for eating meat that outperforms a utilitarian argument, it’s to be found somewhere in this neighborhood.

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Unassailable logic. Checkmate.

If you want to hear an excellent debate, make time to check out the IQ2 Debate, Don’t Eat Anything with a Face. It features some real heavy hitters on both sides. Arguing for the motion was Dr. Neal Bernard (cardiologist) and Gene Bauer (animal rescuer); arguing against, Chris Masterjohn (diet guru) and Joel Salatin (famous rancher). The vegans stomped the meat guys in this debate, though partly because Salatin weakened his side by trying to reframe the resolution as something like “you shouldn’t eat anything with a face unless it comes from my swell farm.” You have to be really slick to pull off trickery with the resolution. Salatin would’ve been far better served by sticking to his rural charms and environmentalist bona fides. Masterjohn isn’t a dullard, but he was simply outclassed by Dr. Bernard on health points.

I should really walk this stuff out more, but I’m going to table the deeper analysis of the specific things you might bring up as arguments in favor of talking about the specific debate last night.

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Technically, it’s food AND violence

Mackey and Friedrich wiped the floor with the Stanford debaters, which really surprised me. I thought Stanford Law students on the debate team would be much better prepared. They picked the most easily debunked pro-meat positions (“bro, you need protein, bro”) and did nothing to counter the vegan points.

Honestly, the City College Debate Club had way more talent back when I was an undergrad (I wasn’t on the team, a serious regret of mine).

If I was given the chance to debate the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you better trust and believe I’d go as hard as I could to crush him or her. In a debate, even if you are wrong and don’t have the evidence on your side, you should still be able to advance positions that score points and chop away at your opponent’s arguments. Hell, you should at least make the crowd laugh. These kids were terribly prepared and lost badly.

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Those Stanford kids were no Frank the Tank

The real show took place before the debate. About 15 animal right activists in the crowd staged a chanting style protest, imploring John Mackey to end the sale of animal products at Whole Foods Market. They held the floor for about 20 minutes, chanting and holding up placards that said, “What is Whole Foods Hiding?”

Here’s the deal, Whole Foods isn’t hiding anything. I work there, so you can take my word or leave it, but everything these protestors are worried about is completely transparent. You might not like what Whole Foods is up to and you might even be fair in thinking John Mackey is an appropriate personality to engage with this stuff, but no one is hiding anything. I actually expected to work for Whole Foods for just long enough to find out how evil it was on the inside.

evil
I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

Truthfully, I was a little disappointed to find the people who work for Whole Foods are a stand up bunch of primates. I thought I’d be able to write a killer book about how much it sucked, instead I ended up with a pretty good career.

Back to the protestors. I admire these folks for having the sand to get in front of a crowd of people and make some noise for what they believe in. I don’t think what they did last night was in any way effective. I’d guess at least half of the crowd (including the protestors) were already vegetarian or have some kind of raised food consciousness. If they had stuck around, they would’ve seen Mackey and Friedrich make great arguments and win the debate.

For me, the best, most compelling form of vegan activism is living a life that’s so vibrant and kickass you can’t ignore it. I’m thinking of people like John Joseph (Cro-Mags) and Rich Roll. Looking fit and doing well in academics or athletics is, to my mind, essential to selling people on all this vegetable shit.

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Hot AF vegan YouTuber, Banana Blondie 108

I’m going to start a 90 day vegan challenge as of right now and it’s not because of the protestors. It’s because of the strength of John Mackey’s arguments and the performance I’m seeing from some of these crazy ass YouTube people (ALSO, IT IS TO BE NOTED MY WIFE IS A HARDCORE VEGAN AND WILL CLAIM SOME RESPONSIBILITY). As I go forward with this, I’m going to write about it, so if you want to read more about anything I skimmed over above, mention it in the comments.

IMG_6778I thought for sure Johnny Depp was exiting his larval human stage to become Keith Richards, but it seems like hes’s actually  becoming the late Mitch Hedberg.

If you’re not familiar with Hedberg’s comedy, do yourself a solid and watch this video right here. He was a master of absurd one liners and comedic non sequiturs. One of my favorite of his jokes goes like this: “I used to do drugs, I still do, but I used to, too.

Hedberg died of a drug overdose at the age of 37. Not long before his death, he came extremely close to losing a leg from injecting heroin into it. He was a huge fan of narcotics and no one was able to stop him. Doug Stanhope (another great comedian) wrote about it at the time and did a bit on his 2012 album, Before Tuning the Gun On Himself, about the absurdity of a celebration of his life that included a “don’t do drugs” message.

Stanhope hated the calls to condemn Hedberg’s indulgences. He despised, “the deluge of people who will try to fault him for his demise, as though if he’d spent his days on a treadmill, logging his mileage for tax purposes and avoiding red meat he would have been the same comic that you all loved.”

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Doug Stanhope, Clean Living Advocate 

Stanhope is a balls-to-the-wall Bukowski type and seems hell bent on his own rock n roll suicide, so it’s wise to consider the bias of his cavalier attitude towards fatal medication. I’m not innocent of romanticizing the Bacchanalian destruction of artists either. Just listening to Hedberg makes me want to smoke some heavy OG Kush and slip into a giggle coma.

But here’s the thing, I never produce any good work when I’m fucked up. Years ago I thought it would be clever to write poems while on LSD. They were terrible. Every night I drank I tried to write in my journal when I got home. Usually I just got the spins and puked. Cannabis does nothing good for my creativity or productivity.

The best I’ve ever written was actually on Adderrall. I seriously doubt my senior thesis, Iron John Connor: Apocalyptic Myth and Masculinity Through the Lens of the Terminator Film Franchises, would have been written without it. I cranked out 30 pages of critical theory diarrhea and it made enough sense for me to get an A+ and graduate with honors. I really have to thank drugs and Arnold Schwarzenegger for my academic success.

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Arnold, About to Govern that Ass

If I were to return to college I would definitely get a prescription for Adderral or Provigil. These stimulants are absolutely incredible for reading and processing information. In the same semester I finished my senior honors thesis I took a gnarly Shakespeare course. I had skipped class most of the semester and ended up having to read most of the major plays two days before the final. To this day I recall these plays in incredible detail. If brain stimulants are available and they’re cheap enough, I don’t see any reason not to use them.

Heroin on the other hand? Fuck that. Despite some pretty epic anecdotal evidence, I think that shit isn’t doing anyone any favors. Stanhope might believe it’s part of what made Hedberg great, but I seriously doubt it. What do I know? I’m sitting here writing a blog about how I’d take drugs to do well in a fucking continental philosophy course. Nerd alert.

It’s not like you’re going to do anything countercultural on ADHD medicine. I can’t think of any musician who says they use it. Heroin, on the other hand, has respectable representation on the Billboard Top 100. It seems to have a bad habit of killing people, though. Well, everyone except you know who.

keith

norm
The Kings of Normocore.

Of all the fashion movements of recent years, the one I’ve enjoyed pondering the most is Normcore. I’m years late in writing about this trend. It’s like the mild mannered DuChamp urinal of fashion.

Wherever you are, there’s a norm and the whole point of Normcore is to adopt a brutally blasé look that makes you aggressively blend in with the muggles. My own look, a sort of uniform, mirrors the Normcore sensibility. I wear the same style of Levis (dark wash 511s), the same black t-shirt (American Apparel 50/50 Summer Shirt), slip on shoes (Converse by John Varvatos), colorful socks (PACT), and the same jackets (Patagonia, Nice Collective). I was originally inspired by the relentlessly utilitarian style of Henry Rollins as a teenager, and except for a couple of misguided years as a goth, I’ve basically looked the same ever since.

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Black T Erryday

I rarely branch out, and when I do, I can’t help but feel like I look ridiculous. I like the anonymity of my apparel. I wouldn’t say I rock an orthodox Normcore style, though. My hair (and right now my beard) are way too long to really pull it off. True Normcore requires supremely sensible grooming practices.

Truthfully, if I had some more money and felt like investing in a wardrobe, I’d probably up my game a little bit to the exponentially more stylish Swedish Norm. It’s more or less a cleaner version of the lumbersexual, but with a little more city wear thrown in. It would be perfect for a professor of Medieval Studies or a reclusive memoirist. Fit is important for the Swedes.

norm 2
Even Substitute Teachers in Sweden Look Cool

There are a few other directions you can take the style. One option is a radically uninteresting “dad jeans and Miller Light hat” look. Imagine the clothing you might see on Adam Sandler. This frumpy look says, “ready to change a diaper or play some beer pong. Down for pizza at any time.”

'Blended' Berlin Premiere
Only a True Fashion Icon Can Get Away with Sandals

Street wear and hip hop also have their own version. Think of Kanye West when he’s not wearing leather pants or apocalyptic ponchos from the Matrix. The fit is looser. There’s an almost eerie lack of branding and labelling. Colors are muted and earthy.

kanye
Creative Genius at Work

Normcore is not just for men, though they seem to pull of the “I don’t care” level of the style with a little more authority. Women have plenty of options, but to really sell it, you need some reimagined mom jeans. America’s Princess, Taylor Swift, rocks a decent amount of Normcore.

taylor
Normcore Perfection

I’m still not sure if Normcore is a joke. In some ways, it’s the ultimate justification for giving up. In others, it’s an opportunity to fetishize extremely expensive versions of normal things most people would pay no attention to, like a hot rod Volvo.

vovlo
Volvo: Boxy, but Good

The weirdest thing about Normcore is once you start looking for it, you’ll see it everywhere. And that’s kind of the magic of it. You shift your own perception to allow Western Civilization to impress you with the everyday.

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gut

The people of Boston are not known for their sensitivity or political correctness. When third baseman Pablo “Panda” Sandoval showed up to Red Sox spring training with that beer keg belly, they lit the Internet on fire with enough fat shaming to cause an epidemic of bulimia triggering over at Jezebel.

Panda has a long history of showing up to play with a little extra girth. Which is fine if he was delivering results, but he just came off a terrible year and I don’t think that extra mass is going to improve things for him this season. Comparisons to chunky players of the olden days are not helpful at all here. Babe Ruth could be fat because there weren’t really any ‘roided up super humans in the league with him. Extra weight means slower speed and dudes in the majors are faster than ever.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has had a few hefty heavyweights do well, notably Roy “Big Country” Nelson. But even he seems to have adjusted his terrible diet and tried to come in lighter in his last fight.

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As a skinny person, I know my opinion on another man’s fluffiness will be met with some serious eye rolling. But here’s the thing. I know I can outrun that dude and if I was his weight I couldn’t. If your income depends on being fast, it seems like you’d want to be faster.

Think of it this way: is a heavier car, motorcycle or bicycle ever an advantage in racing? No. It’s just physics. Is that shaming? Should we ignore facts that shame? Is there a better way to deliver them? Probably, but that delivery style doesn’t get many clicks on social medi because the Internet loves haters.

People should be able to separate a weight- based criticism of Panda’s performance from a statement of his personal worth as a human. It should not raise any eyebrows to say something like, “if Panda lost 30 lbs he would play better.” That’s entirely different from saying something like, “when Panda sits around the house he really sits around the house.” But there are people out there who don’t see the difference because they’re either over or under sensitive to language.

I keep returning to this issue of patrolling language. I care deeply about free expression, but I’m also committed to trying not to be a dick. It’s valid to criticize unproductive fat shaming of celebrities because somewhere there’s probably a kid that’s a few stones over where he or she’d like to be and they feel like crap because they think the entire city of Boston hates them for how they look.

Philosophically, I’d rather live in a world where you could hurt anyone’s feelings at any time than a world where you can’t say anything without fear of punishment. But I ‘m also not a person who’s being bullied or made to feel like shit (though I have had my own experiences with assholes; my method for dealing with them was to get meaner than them and better at life).

What do you think, is Panda a fat bastard or is he less than optimally shaped for performance? Does that distinction matter if you’re a Red Sox fan?