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WRITE CLUB Los Angeles - Belknap, Fame, 4/4/12

In the titty bar of life – and I think we can agree that life is a titty bar – Fame is the Champagne Room. Every bit as depressing as out front, but the no-touch rule does not apply. You can smack the ass of any leathery herpes-girl that captures your fancy.

Little known fact: behind the semen-crusted velvet rope outside the super-prestigious Champagne Room, you will find no actual champagne. There is a tepid case of Prosecco from a haunted vineyard outside of Bakersfield, but you are urged to avoid it, because to take but one sip is to know madness. Phil Spector and Tom Sizemore split a bottle of that shit, and look where it got them – all over the news.

The difficulty – as with any magical place that is super-amazing – is gaining access. To stand out from the other spray-tan bulemics and chiseled gym rats requires a deathless brand of attention-seeking and a towering self-regard that eludes most of us. Here’s a quick test to see if you’re ready for the mind-shattering wonders of the Champagne Room:

Good. Did you snuff the puppy? Check. You got a cauterized candle hole in your hand? Check. O’Dell enchanted by your convincing regard for Statutory? Check. She thought it was hilarious when you described the high jinks on the set, like the time Grodin dipped his dick in your Jamba Juice, and stood over you laughing while he forced you to drink the rest of it.

You’re ready, my friend. Welcome to the eye-searing Glory of the super-foxy Champagne Room. Be advised, though: it is less a room than it is a bunker built of human skulls and dreams defiled. But it’s glamorous like crazy, though.

You’re home free. The Champagne Room, after all, is the ONLY place on the face of the fucking earth where a dilettante fucktard like James fucking Franco gets called a fucking renaissance man.

Before you head in, though, you gotta do a quick interview with Joan and Missy Rivers – do not be alarmed. Just know that Joan at this point is made mostly of Spackle, and that Missy is technically a shaved pony. You’ll love them, they’re the best – “the best” here meaning “intolerable harpies.”

STAY FOCUSED. Too often, a newcomer is so entranced by the sights and smells (it will come as no shock that Jessica Simpson, for example, smells like Jolly Ranchers and unrecovered memories of being molested).

It’s gonna be tough to stay sharp, though, cause THEY’RE ALL HERE: Vincent D’Nofrio with his bafflingly giant face you could park a motorcycle on; Madonna, with those arms made of human jerky; Tom Cruise standing on a bar stool so he can make out with Neil Patrick Harris; Nicholas Cage with his Total Recall Quatto that makes his every decision; Gwyneth Paltrow who, it turns out, did NOT rely on special effects for that scalp-and-face peel off in Contagion BECAUSE THAT IS HER FAVORITE PARLOR TRICK AND SHE DOES IT ALL THE TIME.

Do NOT get so captivated by celebrity that you forget you’ve entered a Thunderdome arena where you must fight like a dragon to claim your piece of the dream. If you falter, there is a remorseless army of great-looking sexbots right behind you – this is the Champagne Room, the most glittering slaughterhouse there is, and you’re not willing to spill a little bit of your own blood, dignity, cartilage, stomach acid, brain matter, empathy, and tooth enamel, then you are not DESERVING of the Champagne Room and you can wait out front with the rest of the scumbag failures.


WRITE CLUB - Belknap, Creation, 3/27/12

You ever see that Michael Douglas picture Falling Down? Where he’s got a flat top and glasses? And he beats dudes to death with a bat? That pretty closely approximates my inner life. I may be a dork; I may be in a short-sleeved dress shirt; but I am filled with avenging fury. When you impede me, in my mind, my glasses are spattered with your blood.

What I mostly want to do is pry the spine out of each asshole that makes modern living such a clot of hassle-prone misery and vexation and beat them into a wet, chunky pile with it.

If it came to my attention that the devil himself was gonna be at like the Aragon or Park West, and he was gonna eat a basket of puppies, I’d think about buying a ticket. I would. I would think about getting a sitter, and going to watch the devil eat puppies.

So. I get it. The allure. Of destruction.

But even though destruction has a visceral appeal that you feel at the very root of your nad-satchel, it wields no real or lasting power.

I have borne witness to creation. I have been present for the birth of my children.

It is cliché I realize to speak of childbirth as miraculous. Which is true, obviously, but is also an idea that has grown so thumb-worn that it has ceased meaning anything.

And however miraculous it may be, childbirth is completely disgusting. A more sickening spectacle you could never hope to see. It is a punishing test of vaginal endurance comparable to shitting a toaster oven or squeezing a double-A battery out of your tear duct.

But then after all the suffering and horribleness that brings a mother’s body to the very brink of destruction, there is this person.

A caterwauling person slathered in womb-snot and clotted placenta, it is true, but a person such as the world has never seen previously. This person, wriggling in protest, is distinct from all other persons before or since, a lion-hearted little person unique among the seven billion on this planet residing, and unique among all persons yet born – but for me, this singularity is not the full measure of the power and majesty of this event.

The FULL weight and wonder of the thing is this:

When my son was born in 2001, he knew us already. He reached toward us from across the room where the nurses were weighing and cleaning him. He heard our voices and he reached toward us. I had been reading aloud to my wife’s belly for months before his arrival. He was like 40 seconds old and he reached for us because he knew us already.

Now. You may believe that what I take to be reaching was just some infantile conniption – but I will go to my rapidly advancing grave knowing that it was the dawn of his consciousness and that he was in his preverbal way attempting to convey that we were known to him and that he wished to be near us.

And then seven months later, the towers came down. I was clutching him in my arms as I watched the second plane plow into the second tower. And it was horrifying, obviously. But it was rendered more horrifying, or the horror was etched more sharply because of the yielding little body in my arms. There is a kind of weight specific to babies – a gelatinous helplessness, a boneless and witless heft. A baby is a like a goatskin bag of wine – if you don’t exercise care or your attention lapses, the bag will drop and burst open. But neither can you hold too tightly the bag – if you clutch it too fiercely, it will pop.

Holding your own baby, you grow conditioned to it, this hammocking action. This cradling becomes habitual and unnoticed by you, almost – your baby becomes like an appendage of its own – a fattened Popeye arm. But when you are holding that baby and you are witnessing the worst fucking thing that you have ever seen – that hammocking embrace becomes suddenly the most mindful and attentive thing you ever have done. It becomes the only thing for which you are suited and you feel as you watch this horrific thing that you never, ever wish to stop holding this baby. Because it is all you know to do.

In the years intervening, people have often asked me: “Dude. Why are you such a combative dickface who is totally ripshit all the time?”

As much as anything – the awfulness of my family history, the quagmire of my years squandered in drink, the unbearable shittiness of people and their unrelenting campaign of assholery and willful ignorance clearly meant to grind us all down – it is that moment.

That baffled and powerless moment where I held my fat-legged son and watched the end of the world – because it was in that moment, I see now, when I resolved to fight my way toward believing that this fat-legged little person, and all the others like him, was more potent and lasting than the column of fire and the shards of steel and the screams of the fallen.

The victories in this fight are fleeting, and only for skirmishes. Victory in the campaign will never be mine. Victory in the campaign will elude me forever. But my choice is to fight, or to succumb. And that is no choice at all.


WRITE CLUB - Belknap, Robber Baron, 2/28/12

It is the rich who can claim credit for all progress in this nation.

It was the silken-hosed and powder-wigged British seeking to extract ever-greater tribute from the Colonies that sparked the Revolution.

It was mustachioed and mutton-chopped railroad magnates who brought the Coolies and Irishmen to heel with ax handles and pistol shots that tamed the West and brought civilization to a savage land.

It was the waist-coated steel tycoons and their brick-toting strikebreakers that kept the roiling and swarthy immigrant masses in line and built the modern cities you ingrates live in.

I could go on.

These hooligans of the so-called Occupy Movement would do well to try to further concentrate capital at the top, if they ever wish to see their utopian pipe dream come to pass.

It is ONLY through the excesses of the Robber Baron that the rabble get roused and take to the streets.

Look here: if I have some opulent means of conveyance – a coal-fired velocipede, say, or a wood-burning dirigible – loaded with my concubines and the rest of my retinue, and we head to the hippodrome to place a wager on the cock fights, that conveyance can prove costly to operate, to say nothing of how noisy and soot-belching such engines can be.

Well what if I were to tell you that I and my associates have hit upon a source of fuel that is both virtually inexhaustible AND that is free for the harvesting on nearly any street corner in the world? What would you say THEN? Why, you would commend me for extricating this once great nation from the barbarous and dusky clutches of Arabian potentates and their control of the world’s petroleum.

Simply put: my associates and I have devised a simple means of converting engines to run on clean-burning peasant-flesh.

Why, with the peasants of a single province of Burma or the Congo, I could fuel my whaling fleet for an entire year.

At a stroke, we have attained energy independence, and have solved the more pressing Peasant Problem, as well.

It has grown so bad that when I send my chauffeur on a simple errand like fetching brass fittings from the purveyor of hardware, the auto is BESET by a dragoon of tattered hoboes laying their oily hands upon the chrome surround of the rumble seat.

I say why not harvest these fallen men and put them to use? Why are we not rendering their ill-spent and torpid lives purposeful? Why are we not butchering them and using them for fuel? I’ll TELL you why: TOO MUCH REGULATION at the Federal level.

On the face of it, I’ll concede my proposal is bold – but I think once you’ve learned its many virtues, you’ll find yourself unable to vote against it. My adversary this evening has / will no doubt plucked upon your heartstrings. Do not be taken in. I am appealing to your reason – I am appealing to your higher and more rational self.

Further, I am here to assure you that your insistence on the “dignity of all human life” is a relic of a bygone era. There are seven BILLION persons on the planet, most of whom were born on foreign soil.

It is past time that we recognize this singular moment of exploitatunity.

May I say to the more squeamish among you that my proposal is not restricted to the use of peasants as a renewable source of inexpensive fuel – far from it. My intention is that we take our cue from the savages of the Western plains – like the buffalo, I say we use every part of the peasant.

For example, did you know that by rendering the fat off boiled peasant babies, one is able to create a supple mustache wax without peer or equal? What remains can serve as an axle grease, or as a sealant for the deck of one’s yacht.

And for the business people among us: at the negotiating table, who can dispute the value of wearing a necklace of human ears?

And if you’ve not sampled peasant liver pâté, then you quite simply have not lived – I can further attest from my own observation that their days spent in the fattening pens are among the very happiest of their short lives.

For the style-conscious – peasant-leather spats are as spruce-looking as any you currently own, and peasant-skin gloves are so soft and yielding, they make calfskin feel like you’ve stuffed your hand down the gullet of an emu that’s been gorging on ground glass.

For the sport hunter – there is no more cunning game than the Street Urchin. They will keep for several weeks’ time in your root cellar – invite your friends out for a weekend of shooting. It’s not only great fun, but I can tell you this: my island compound has been poacher-free ever since we installed a garland of human teeth along the property line.

All these and a thousand other uses can be found for this bounty that sits right under our noses. If we but apply our intellect to the judicious use of the shirking classes, in a decade’s time we will have transformed the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen: to find against my recommendation regarding the responsible stewardship of this untapped resource is to name yourself an enemy of progress.


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 – 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.


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.