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Thursday
Aug182016

My Reader Failure

So the Chicago Reader, where I've had the good fortune to publish a couple pieces, ran this issue on Summer fucking Festivals a while back, for which I wrote this little number, which they ended up not using, but which I nonetheless found amusing. Enjoy.

 

OK, Chicago. It’s spring, no?

How can you tell? The reappearance of cargo shorts and flip flops all over the North side, sending throngs of dudes lumbering their foot-spanking way through Wrigleyville that makes summer the pedestrian equivalent of getting trapped behind a Zamboni on the interstate. And, may I say: THANK you, gentlemen. The sight of those blanched and hammer-toed Hobbit feet is precisely the harbinger of sunnier days we’ve all been longing for.

And when our thoughts turn to summer, that can only mean one thing: getting our bods beach-ready!

[Note to those on the coasts: this is the Midwest, so for us the phrase “beach body” is very much not the same for us as it is for you. So in your mind’s eye, just cinch a pair of swim trunks around a Ziploc bag filled with sausage gravy. It’s similar to how we refer to somebody who walks up the escalator as a “gym rat”, and what you call a “competitive eater,” we call a “foodie”.]

Luckily for us, the only fitness regimen we need is rolled out for us each and every weekend from here till like October – I refer, of course, to living off the bounty offered up at street festivals, which permit us to partake of a wonderland of foodstuffs that’s best described as a Cheesecake Factory menu filtered through a Guy Fieri fever dream.

As you gear up for summer (or “Street Food Season”), remember these tips:

So remember – if it fits in a hog trough, it’ll fit in your gut, and if you’re not hoarsely hollering the word “party!” with the repetitive single-mindedness of Andrew WK, you run the very real risk of people not realizing precisely how much fun you’re having.

Monday
Aug152016

My First-Ever Essay on The Rumpus

I'm really, really, REALLY pleased to have this piece on the excellent site.

If you don't know The Rumpus, and you like well-crafted essays, then, man you're missing out.

Anyhow, here's my piece, complete with illustrations by my 13-year-old son.

Tuesday
Jul262016

More Crain's Ridiculousness

Posted today, my ludicrous take on the DNC, in Crain's HERE.

Friday
Jul152016

Return to Paper Machete - 7/9/16

My assignment - the end of Garrison Keillor's overlong tenure on Prairie Home Companion - coupled with recent police shootings of unarmed black men, had me riffing on whiteness.

Garrison Keillor, pictured just prior to being unmasked and having his plot foiled by a bunch of meddling kids.

 

After 42 years, Garrison Keillor is finally retiring as the host of NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion. That’s four decades of delivering home-spun bullshit for 53-year-old white people as they ease their Saab into a spot at the farmer’s market – white people fond of chuckling at feebleminded word play, and old-timey songs sung in an atonal dry-throated murmur, and meandering radio plays that as free of dramatic conflict as they are peppered with agonizing dad jokes.

For over 40 years, each weekend, America has tuned in to form a drowsy paste of warm milk and crushed Saltines, and then spackling their ears with it.

Never mind that even after Garrison goddamn Keillor is leaving, they will CONTINUE to produce this fucking show. Never mind that this Lutheran death march of mandolin-puke will shortly be a HALF A FUCKING CENTURY OLD. And never mind that to lower your brain into this warm bath of nostalgia porn effectively announces to the world that you’re content to garnish your fucking applesauce with a ground-up Tylenol PM and nap till you’re dead.

At first glance, there would seem to be no connection between Prairie Home Companion and the nationwide frenzy of police shooting unarmed black men, but for your edification, I will now attempt to make just such a connection.

Prairie Home Companion, which is white like the guts of a biscuit, is by no means a CULPRIT in the over-long list of slain African Americans, obviously, but I would submit to you that it is a data point in the vast spreadsheet of whiteness that creates and maintains precisely the systems of oppression that make such institutional murder possible, it is a tentacle on the nation-sized beast of collusion and calamity.

Prairie Home Companion, which is white like a Whole Foods in Utah, does not pull the trigger, obviously, but NPR is for sure on the presets of enough Volvo and Acura and Audi car radios as to be a contextual contributor to the kind of complacency that must be present in the beneficiaries of systematized privilege for such systems to persist.

Prairie Home Companion, which is white like a glass of Pinot on the deck of a boat, does not perpetrate the inequities of media coverage that normalize and minimize such brutality, but provides an ongoing propaganda campaign about the supposed virtues of whiteness, and therefore adds to a climate where whiteness continues to dominate.

Prairie Home Companion, which is white like a pair of Crocs at a Klan rally, does not administer the system of justice that permits white cops to kill with impunity, but is at least a brick in the high, wide wall of a white sense of entitlement that permits such a system to run roughshod over any sense of fairness or balance or even hope.

Prairie Home Companion, which is white like a Montana soccer game, does not in any direct sense, obviously, follow this appalling violence with the apology and dissembling and misdirection that too many white people, with their internalized sense of superiority, offer in response, but it is at least a plume in the fanned peacock tail of unearned white pride that causes too goddamn many of us to circle the fucking wagons when anybody calls us on our shit.

Prairie Home Companion, which is white like Cool Whip on a yeti’s dick, obviously did not engage in a decades-long campaign of militarizing our police. But it has always advanced the certainty that the apparatus of the state, and more broadly all forms of a authority, should be obeyed – that uniforms and crosswalks and school bells are all signifiers that our duty is to comply, and that failure to do so makes us aberrant and unwholesome.

Prairie Home Companion, which is white like a golf cart full of cottage cheese, has not insisted – not overtly – that we swaddle ourselves in the flag and remain resolutely uncritical of our nation’s policies or our own complicity in them. But radio, like all dying media, can do nothing but hearken backward, and as it pines for a time that never was, it provides a kind of ambient noise of patriotism – chiding civics lessons and rose-colored revisionism can only happen against a backdrop of implied national greatness. And patriotism, as any limbless veteran can tell you, has a whiff of the graveyard about it.

Prairie Home Companion, which is white like a line of cocaine on a low-flow toilet, did not introduce the profit motive into our nation’s prisons, obviously, thereby incentivizing whole towns and regions to incarcerate black and brown men at rates that are the envy of despots all over the world, but in this fictional town in Minnesota, where are the black people? I’ll tell you were they are. They’re all crammed like animals in the supermax prison just outside of St. Cloud.

Prairie Home Companion, which is white like a handgun with a peanut allergy, obviously did not conspire for generations to deprive young black men of economic opportunity, but Lake Wobegone, populated as it is by thrifty merchants and wise, avuncular tradesmen, does perpetuate that tired bootstrapping bullshit that if you work hard and play by the rules, you will prosper. Such a cheery narrative about your prospects, though, is only possible if you live in a town without food deserts and where you can get through high school without getting shot, and where jobs await you after graduation.

Prairie Home Companion, which is white like a meth lab on a Jet Ski, does not, obviously, destroy and dismantle the educational infrastructure that would once have permitted black men to claw their way out of their generations-long cycle of deprivation and hopelessness, but it does portray schools without lockdown drills and where all the students have had breakfast and regular medical care; where there are fewer than 40 kids to a classroom, and where there are no behavioral issues or trauma; where their teachers are not ground down and burnt out, where their parents are not jailed and addicted, and where the streets on the way to school are not paved with the bones their fallen classmates.

Prairie Home Companion, which is white like a yoga mat in a vat of Greek yogurt, obviously does not in itself constitute any of the depravities of privilege and discrimination, of bloody capitalism and bloody hatred – to suggest as much would be an irresponsible overreach. And I am nothing if not measured and responsible.

But dopey radio shows, and chatty podcasts, and laugh track sitcoms, and race-baiting newscasts can all serve to render us all a little whiter. And history, coupled with recent events, must cause us to conclude that whiteness, as we have been practicing it, is broken. And it is long past time – centuries past time – that we abandon the present model of whiteness in favor of something less oblivious and harmful, less volatile and aggrieved, less joyless and mean, less greedy and grasping. Because to fail in this is watch the world burn.

Saturday
May282016

My Clickhole Failure

So a while back, Clickhole put out the call for new writers/content monkeys. You were required to create 10 headlines in their multiple categories (Video, List, Article, Quiz). I obviously did not get the gig (which bums me out, since this would have been a fun-ass place to work), but I was pretty pleased with my submissions/thought thy was mostly pretty funny. So I'll set them here, in this wayward and disregarded corner of internet posterity.

While I met with failure, I regard it as a worthy failure.

Please to enjoy, Tiny Handful of Readers.

 

LIST:

17 Ways My Ex Is An Ungrateful Dragon Hooker


VIDEO:

Watch Harrison Ford Plow His Small Plane Into This Family Cookout. Last Thrill For a 9-Year-Old Star Wars Fan!


LIST:

11 Vermin Elizabeth Banks Would Eat Raw Before Laying Her Alabaster Hands Upon Any Part of Your Sad Carcass


QUIZ:

Test Your Knowledge – Track From Cast Recording of “On Your Feet!” or Thimble Brimming With Tepid Spit?


LIST:

4 Senses That Are Heightened For Matt Murdoch (Editor's note: Non-Daredevil fans may struggle with this one)


ARTICLE:

Find Out Why the Rest of the Color Wheel Calls Pantone 719B a “Scabrous Little Dick Hole”


LIST:

12 Tricks For Preventing Your Next Brunch From Becoming Another Pointless and Harrowing Ordeal


ARTICLE:

Hapless Stumblebum Jeb Bush Has Actually Been Israeli Spy For Past Three Decades. “This is some ‘Mr. Bean’-level shit,” Reports NSA’s Gen. Alexander


LIST:

Estate Planning: 18 Reasons You’ll Be Dumped Unceremoniously Into a Pauper’s Grave 

QUIZ:

Which Is Sadder: This Jar of Store Brand Gravy, or This Toll Booth Operator’s Partial Erection?