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Friday
Feb102012

WRITE CLUB - Belknap, Black, 1/31/12

It will not escape your notice that I am white.

But I am not SO white that you need to land on the “H.“ White. So while it might be true that I am a white man, I am not The White Man.

Having grown up in Massachusetts, though, I have spent a lot of time NEAR The White Man. I grew up in a town called Amherst, named after Lord Jeffrey Amherst, a commander of British forces during the French and Indian War. A commander who authorized the delivery of blankets infected with smallpox to the Ottawa tribe in 1763.

Which is what The White Man calls innovation. Because in the mind of The White Man, there are two kinds of people:  Human. And Non-White.

Let me emphasize again: while I am inescapably a white man, I am not, nor shall I ever be The White Man.

Not only would I never volunteer, but I am prevented from ever becoming The White Man. I do not come from money.

It is Class and Capital that flavor the Goulash of Whiteness. I have neither. Consulting The White Man Glossary, we find that Class and Capital are what you and I would Oppression and Thievery.

It is The White Man who commits genocide wherever he makes landfall as surely as it is The White Man who starts a fucking lacrosse program at every school his children colonize. The White Man is the cause of Eric fucking Clapton, John fucking Mayer, Frank fucking Zappa, and all annoying manner of guitar-based beating off.

The White Man owns every basketball team, and he can watch gravity-defying miracles performed on the court far below his skybox, and still speak of a bygone era of the more “brainy” play of Bob Cousy and Jerry West.

The White Man sells cheap handguns to the desperate and then blames rap lyrics and baggy pants for all the toddlers getting shot down. The White Man blames hiphop for his crimes AND he’ll send the black reporter to cover the Senate hearings with a straight fucking face.

The White Man is available in three flavors: banker, date rapist, and date rapist banker, or serial date rapist. Each of these flavors answers to the name “Job Creator.” Newt Gingrich. Perfect example. You know why his hair’s that way? His skin is insufficient to contain the full measure of his whiteness.

The White Man appropriates every bit of culture on the planet, leaches all the cool out it, and sells it back to you. The fact that I can say the word “jazz” and anybody on the face of the Earth will see the Jeri-curl head of Kenny fucking G. blowing on that pin-dick sax of his is a testament to the rapacious and culture-killing power of The White Man.

My condemning The White Man this is NOT white guilt. LIBERAL guilt compels me to worry that I’m inadvertently perpetuating a patrician and racialized narrative of oppression by displacing the brown-skinned peoples who are its rightful inheritors. WHITE guilt leads to handguns with a seventeen-shot clip because The White Man is always in danger of being attacked by a mob seeking justice, for he is a whore-hearted demon cock.

If you suspect for a second that The White Man does not make everything worse wherever He goes, that The White Man cannot take a horrifying situation and render it even more distressing and awful and unfair, you need look no further than the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. This is from NPR.org – another way you can tell I’m a lowercase white man:

“When the quake struck at 4:53 p.m. on Jan. 12, Signal FM was playing ‘Hotel California.’ The Earth groaned and the building shuddered, but just before the DJ ran out, he had the presence of mind to hit the "repeat" button.

So for the first 30 minutes of Port-au-Prince's descent into hell, the only thing you could hear on the radio was the Eagles' standard — over and over and over.”

Now. A half hour in the immediate wake of a deadly earthquake is a horrible way to spend your time. But a half hour in the immediate wake of a deadly earthquake with “Hotel California” playing on fucking repeat is an unendurable hellscape from which light and hope cannot escape. It’s a fucking White Hole that extinguishes everything good and true.

I’d sooner be crushed under the rubble of my collapsing house than listen to the goddamn Eagles – because a rubble-crushing is mercifully swift; and even if it’s not, I’d rather stare at my own jagged fucking femur piercing my pant leg for EIGHT HOURS before I bleed out than listen to eight fucking seconds of “Hotel California.” Like any right-thinking person.

I know I’m supposed to have Black in this bout, and have spent most of my time running down White, but listen: everybody’s horrible. It’s just that the White Man is clearly the MOST horrible. By a country fucking mile.

Black people: stop shooting each other. You are not Dick Cheney and therefore cannot avoid prosecution and have your victim, whom you shot in his fucking face, apologize to you publically.

Black men: stick around and parent your children. If you do, then MAYBE they’ll stop shooting everybody.

Black people: quit it with the weird made-up names. Can we please just agree that the maximum number of times the letter “Q” appears in a name is not to exceed one?  

That’s about it. No more shooting, dads don’t be dirtbags, and ease up on the weird names. But even if you DON’T do any of that, you’ll never be as bad as The White Man.

Friday
Feb102012

Ray's at Rhino Fest - True Manliness

For the Ray's Tap Reading Series, writers are assigned a highly particular topic. In this case, chapters of the 1897 book True Manliness, published by The National Purity Association. WARNING - satirical content.

Here's my thing:

“The activity of mind, resulting from the sheer force of necessary mental action spurred on by chance environment is as death-dealing as inactivity itself; even more so, since the lazy individual who does not direct his thought by aspiring impulse and good judgment, permits himself to assimilate the spirit of the idler’s uncultivated ideas.”

True Manliness, pp. 45-6

Don’t be lazy in your MIND.

Truer words were never spoken. Ever. By anyone. For any reason. No words previously uttered, written, considered, or what have you, have had ANYTHING like the ring of timeless truth as these words here. Up to and including the words: “Randy! Look out for that forklift!”

Not for Randy, obviously. But that Randy? He lacks faith. So his forklift impaling is just, and is the will of God in His infinite mercy.

These are quite literally the most needful and healing words ever devised by the mind of man – they are the richest vein of wisdom and guidance ever struck by the troll-hammer of the human brain. The shower of insight-sparks from this hammer-strike is sufficient to sustain a lesser life – a hedgehog, say, or a Chinaman.

So far-reaching in their scope, so penetrating in their acuity, so incandesc– the GIRTH! Regard for a moment if you would the GIRTH of these ideas, to say nothing of the heft. I think you’ll agree that no mind can remain un-boggled in the face of this degree of spiritual shrewdness and metaphysical perspicacity.

To set the feet of your mind on the blessed meadow of this idea – and NO, this is NOT a mixed metaphor, for so vast is this idea that it encompasses literally everything – this blessed thought-meadow stretches over the horizon and swaddles the world in its goodness and bounty. The vast terrain of this idea is perfect in every way and grows only more lustrous and apt with each encounter.

Why, it’s an idea that makes you wanna fire a few rounds in the air to celebrate – because if you don’t have a concealed carry permit, then you my friend are a nutless little half-man. And if you’re packing a .22, I’ll tell you what, Calista – why don’t you just try defending your family against that home invasion with a pretty pink tuft of cotton candy, which has about the same stopping power. Jesus loves high caliber. High caliber handguns, barbecued ribs, and dead faggots.

Which brings us back to the IDEA expressed in the passage I quote above, which is EASILY as true as the Bible: don’t be lazy in your mind. Stay VIGILANT. Against. Everything.

The gays will not rest until you are soliciting their anonymous wieners in airport bathrooms and shareholder meetings. And the gym. The gym is a perilous place, my friends. Temptation on every side. I mean – it’s really just a wall of terrycloth separating you from having one of those burly homo bears dragging you around by your ass hairs. And if you don’t think that’s a real thing, I have read the Twilight fan fiction that proves it is. Chilling stuff, friends. Chilling… and, and unsettling stuff. Like… turmoil.

And in the face of such exquisite pain, is it even POSSIBLE for you to not turn full-on Pride Parade spangle-fairy? No. No, it isn’t.

In the same way that if you eat a bagel, you could turn Jew. Or like how wearing Crocs is certain to turn you fat-ass. 

This vigilance – the constant fight against the laziness of mind – is reflected in the choices you make, my friends.

If your truck has no gun rack and Jesus-fish on the back – yours is a godless road and when you plow into an embankment, we shall rejoice.

And hey – throw a sticker on your rear window that’s got Calvin peeing on a Chevy logo, because that is alllllllllll right, and it is never not hilarious.

And if you’re not driving a truck, you may as well mail your testicles to somebody who’ll have use for them. And while you’re at it, send your audition tape into Toddlers and Tiaras, why don’t you? Because you are that far gone.

The lazy-minded are those who eat vegetarian and claim to be atheists – like God would even ALLOW such a thing! The lazy-minded are not vigilant against getting fem-ified by that Ellen Degeneres and them whip cream drinks at the Starbucks. The lazy-minded lack the will and the clarity to stand up to those thugs, those shoeless Obamacare fascists down at the “Occupy rallies”, or as I call it “Canada South”.

It is the lazy-minded who gaze at the face of two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady and wanna kiss on him like crazy for his achievements on the field. Or who check out the latest Ryan Gosling movie like 12-15 times opening weekend. Or become attracted to Ann Coulter only after hearing rumors of her giant horse cock. And then even when you do fantasize about a threeway with her and Tom Brady, she’s just working the video camera.

That’s all just LAZINESS. None of it is, like… REAL.

You just… DISCIPLINE your mind. Against it. And everything else.

Friday
Feb102012

WRITE CLUB - Belknap, Give, 12/27/11

Give. You have expectations. At this time of year. You have a great weight of expectation regarding this idea. You have expectations wrought by Dickens and O. Henry and Bing Crosby and Clarence the angel.

I realize that in late December of every year, you yearn for stories extolling the redemptive power of giving. Many of you know me. I am a dick. I am a merciless dick all year long, excreting rant after rant into a body of work that grows darker by the day, work that occupies the narrow emotional bandwidth between peeved and pissed.

For those among you who have never seen me before:

My name is Ian Belknap, and I am an irredeemable, unrepentant dick.

For people like me, the expectation instilled by George Bailey and the Island of Misfit Toys and Red Ryder BB Guns is that I will have a stunning reversal. Where I have gritted my teeth and face-palmed my way through the first eleven and three-quarter months of the year, I am now supposed to turn on a fucking dime and my Grinch-heart is supposed to grow three times its size.

But THINK it THROUGH, guys. That would make my heart the size of a fucking pot roast. I would keel over dead. Or, at the very least, require that Christian Slater baboon-heart replacement surgery so implausibly-if-indelibly portrayed in 1993’s Untamed Heart.

But even accepting that this coronary tripling is metaphorical, it would be a bad idea because it would demonstrate a dismaying inconsistency of character. If I bend like a reed JUST because the winds of the season demand it, I am lacking a set of core principles and you would be right to dismiss me as a lightweight. A man’s got to know where he stands, and if I am a dick eleven and three-quarters months out of the year, but then pivot into maudlin and treacle-y for a week or so, it BOTH fails to honor the dickishness I’ve worked so hard to build, AND it strains credibility pretty goddamn badly.

However, while I may be a dick, I am not Mr. Potter or a Grinch or the Heat Miser. I am not Scrooge. Because look a-fucking-round you. This show. WRITE CLUB. The nation’s premiere competitive philanthropic readings series. The ass-kicking show that eats trouble and shits money. The high-velocity, whip-smart, always entertaining show that does good without being all fucking preachy about it. I may be a dick, but I am by God a dick on a mission.

Since its launch in 2010, WRITE CLUB has:

  • Given away 5,000 dollars to fucking charity.
  • Started chapters in Atlanta and San Francisco, which have given away another 2,500 dollars to fucking charity – and there are more fucking chapters on the way.
  • Presented over 150 pieces of original fucking literature.
  • Relied on over 100 fucking artists who have volunteered their fucking time and talents to appear in this fucking show.
  • Produced over 30 fucking shows for an audience of over two thousand fucking people that come check out original fucking writing on a fucking weeknight.
  • Helped to solidify the reputation of the Hideout as the best fucking place to come check out cool-ass fucking shows that do some fucking good in the world.
  • Relied on scores of fucking people in ways big and small to help on its fucking march toward global domination.

 Since launching WRITE CLUB, I personally have:

 

  • Logged almost 300 fucking hours writing original pieces for this fucking show.
  • Logged over 150 hours curating this fucking show.
  • Logged over 35 hours hosting this fucking show.
  • Logged 100 hours writing original pieces for other fucking shows.
  • Logged over 45 hours performing in other fucking shows so that people at them will learn about fucking WRITE CLUB.
  • Flown over 5,000 miles to bring this fucking show to other fucking cities.
  • Logged 35 hours forming a non-fucking-profit called WRITE CLUB, Inc.
  • Burned up over 50 fucking hours of other fucking people’s volunteer labor.
  • Neglected my own fucking wife and children for not fewer than 500 hours to make this fucking show happen.
  • Have, if you count fucking tonight, uttered not fucking fewer than 66 million fucking swear words from the WRITE CLUB fucking stage.

 

And have I ever asked for a fucking dime, or a word of fucking thanks? NO. You know what you can give? You can give me a fucking break.

Something’s gotta give, because the sitcoms and made-for-TV movies and claymation specials have funneled your minds into thinking that Give can only happen with the swell of fucking violins and the tearful fucking hugs and the tidy fucking lessons learned, I’m standing here as fucking proof that it can happen another fucking way. You know what you can give? You can give that shit a fucking rest, and quit giving me such a hard fucking time.

I tell what I will NOT give, with regard to the shitty fucking idea that in order to give, you need to be limp and weak and soft about: I will NOT give a shit, a fuck, or a rat’s ass. And neither should you. Cause you give that idea an inch and it’ll take a fucking mile.

You give and be awesome. You give and be mighty. You give and be as hard as if you carved out of fucking oak.

If you are as fortunate as I have been, you create a fucking show you feel fucking privileged to be a fucking part of – you give it your time and toil, your sweat and your worry, your brains and your blood, and then you give all the goddamn money away. 

You give it your best fucking shot. You give it your fucking all. You give no fucking quarter, and you give them fucking hell. You give it hard, or you give the fuck up.

So merry motherfucking Christmas, you sons of bitches, because I cannot thank you enough for being a part of this fucking thing here.

Friday
Dec022011

Not just famous, ZULKEY famous

Pal Claire Zulkey kindly interviews Smellcrap for her blog. She attempts to pick a fight between WRITE CLUB and Literary Death Match. I am fine with this.

http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2011-12-02/ian-belknap-interview-94536

Friday
Dec022011

WRITE CLUB - Belknap, No Thanks, 11/29/11

Note: the Edward here referenced is the fearsome Edward Thomas-Herrera, my opponent in this bout.

 

Long time ago, a friend told me this story. It is a story of thanks, and is therefore unusual.

A Russian guy – this was back in Iron Curtain times, so he was a Soviet guy – comes to the United States. He defected I guess, so it was like Moscow on the Hudson, but free of Robin Williams, so it’s a FAR less annoying story. Guy arrives at this bustling airport – LaGuardia, maybe, or JFK – doesn’t matter. The guy knows nobody in the U.S. He has no people here. There’s nobody to come collect him and shepherd him through this disorienting new world he’s been disgorged into. So he’s staggering through this garish airport and there’s a throng of strangers and signs he can’t read and announcements he can’t understand. The guy is at a loss – he feels totally dislocated. He feels abandoned and adrift. Plus, he’s hungry. Long flight from – I don’t know, let’s say Minsk. And all this Soviet guy knows is like black bread and vodka, so American shopping is WAY more than he’s equipped for. So the guy goes to a kiosk and he is TOTALLY overwhelmed by the neon Doritos and Zagnut bars and those orange circus peanuts – guy has no idea what any of this shit is. But then he sees little plastic cups of yogurt. Guy knows yogurt. So he buys a thing of yogurt and he slumps into a bench, and he’s spooning this yogurt into his mouth that’s slackened by the overkill all around him.

He gets to the bottom of the container. And there is this miraculous red jelly – this sweet, summery little dollop of fruity goodness at the bottom of the cup. The guy has only known plain yogurt all his life. He has ONLY had lumpy, sour gulag yogurt. And he comes to America and gets served this mild, textureless cup of uniform excellence that has this sweet buried treasure of unaccountable deliciousness. The guy is beaming.

Which is sensational and marvelous and terrific. Of course it is.

But the reason this story stuck with me for like 15 years? It is an anomaly. We have all had these moments that fleetingly imbue the world with more luster and quicken its pulse. The reason we notice these moments is that they stand in such stark contrast to the fifty-six thousand shitty moments that surround it on all sides.

For every INSTANT of “Wow, that’s amazing” there are HOURS of “Fuck this – are you kidding me?”

For every buoyant moment where your load is lightened and the way seems clear, there can be whole days where you want to fill a pillowcase with canned sardines and beat the piss out of everyone in your path. For every moment where you feel certain that we live in a benevolent universe guided by a Divine hand, there can be months where you wanna drown yourself in a toilet full of Mitch McConnell’s turtle shit. For every moment where the light of reason seems it won’t be snuffed out, there can be whole years where the caterwauling mob threatens to consign us all to a future where we live in squalid and sulphurous underground burrows and we eat uncooked grubs by the light a guttering fire fueled with the few final pages of the last remaining books.

Look, I’m not Bartleby the Scrivener up here – I would not ALWAYS prefer not to. But my bullshit detector is exquisitely sensitive, and hair-triggered, so it does not permit me to say “Thanks” wherever “Fuck, No” is required.

Those moments of thanks? Those moments are easy. Those moments are cake. They require nothing of you.

You know who says “No Thanks”? The 99%. And Woody Guthrie. And Tom Joad, and Henry Fonda AS Tom Joad. Scout and Atticus Finch. Robin Hood. And George fucking Bailey. Plus, R2D2, and two of the Ghostbusters.

Tellya who else says “No Thanks” – Tiananmen Square Guy.

So if you’re pleased with the way things are going, if your allegiance is with Mr. Burns and Darth Vader and Mr. Potter and the Koch brothers Cthulu, you go right on ahead – vote “Thanks”. Cause in YOUR world, things are aces. But if you want to be an advocate for positive change in this world, you have to vote “No Thanks” – you HAVE to.

I’m with Dan Savage. I want it to get better. Edward doesn’t. Edward likes things just as they are. Edward LIKES intolerance and hatred. He’s crazy for it – can’t get enough of the stuff.

And you know who else would vote “Thanks”? Anthrax. And that dew drop of snot that’ll be hanging off the end of your nose till next April.

When you get to the front of the chow line and they ladle out the stew full of snouts and hooves, you say “No Thanks”.

When you work hard and play by the rules, and they still bulldoze your house while you’re in there brushing your teeth, you say “No Thanks”.

When your daughter is possessed and her head’s spinning around and she’s puking all over the place, you say “No, sir, Mr. Devil – No Thanks”. Or maybe you’re PRO-Satan, like my opponent here.

The majority of moments – the moments that bore and exasperate you, the moments that vex and baffle you, the moments of defeat and outrage, the moments that test you – these are the moments that teach you what you’re made of.

It may seem counterintuitive – perverse, even – to ask that you find in favor of the many millions of moments that make you say Screw This, Up Yours, No Thanks. But THESE are the moments that stitch together the quilt of human progress. If you wish to find for complacency, by all means, vote “Thanks”. But do so with OPEN EYES, friends, because “Thanks” is Ann Coulter having demon babies with Rick Perry. I don’t know about you – but I say “No Thanks” to those demon babies. I hope you will, too. If anybody needs us, we’ll be over here, saying “No Thanks” with Jon Stewart and Obi Wan Kenobi.