Comix: Big Henry & Baghead Bob Joyfully Asphyxiate the Bourgeois

The following is a small collection of comic strips I created a while ago. Enjoy!

(Click the pictures for a bigger image of each strip)


Comix: Big Henry and Baghead Bob in...
"Philandering fox fires in the Philadelphia Cheese-steak of your soul."


Comix: Big Henry in...
"The feeling-up feline flower-power hour."


Comix: Big Henry presents Yaddle Jones in...
"Pirates in fancy-pants pumpernickel suits."


Comix: Big Henry presents Baghead Bob in...
"Cancer-riddled culinary Delights on the deathbed of doom."


If I ever find more of these cartoons on my harddrive (or if I one day get around to creating more strips), I'll post them here. However, for a look at the first Big Henry comic ever created, see:

Celebrity Cola: A Navel-Gazing Origin Story (as opposed to a Naval-Gazing Orange Storey).

A Navel-Gazing Origin Story (as opposed to a Naval-Gazing Orange Storey)

Big Henry in "Mentholated marching powder up the nose":

I just ran across a few of these "Big Henry" comic strips I created for the original Celebrity Cola back in the day (yes, I was obviously under the influence of Max Cannon's RED MEAT at the time).

For the uninitiated, Celebrity Cola began as a fake news-type website that lampooned celebrity culture and political hype. It was kinda like the old National Lampoon Magazine meets The Onion meets The National Enquirer. It also satirically poked fun at worshipful celebrity websites and fansites, for the amusement of our few dedicated readers. And, for better or worse (but probably worse), it had an entirely sophomoric, sex-based sense of humor, with lots of images of scantily clad women that we didn’t actually have the copyright permission to use (but, dang, they was hot).

I was the editor and primary writer of the site, which was part of the larger (and far more noble) enterprise. When RoboFilms went belly-up, Celebrity Cola lost its server and disappeared from the Internet... and none of us felt inspired to find a new home for it (nor did anyone offer – there were some decent jokes, gags, and graphics on the site, but nothing worthy of the hundreds of hours we’d put into it or the cost of web-hosting and domain-owning and upkeep)., on the other hand, was a great site -- it was briefly a hot property acclaimed by the likes of USA Today, and it got some nice recognition for it's sleek, simple design and the super-indie-minded nature of it's films. (Essentially, RoboFilms was intended as DIY alternative to "the man," e.g., or, and showcased experimental indie shorts, avant-garde comedies, politically progressive material, and some of the early work of the most-excellent guys).

However, with no profit-scheme in place, we eventually ran out of cash and couldn't afford to host the site ad-free any longer. (Streaming high-quality short films to thousands of people gets expensive, and updating and improving the site was incredibly time-consuming. And there were also plenty of backroom shenanigans and power struggles and fishy investors lurking about, but that’s another story for another time).

So the UGO network kindly took us on, offering to cover our server and domain costs and provide marketing (while promptly demoralizing us by dominating a 6th of our layout with cheesy ads). But even with tens of thousands of visitors, we still weren't generating enough ad-clicks to satisfy Ugo, and none of us ever really saw a dime (and we were tired and restless and bored and poor and our once tight-knit group was spreading across the country as unfocused artsy-types are wont to do). So, eventually, swallowed up our domains and we all sauntered off toward other pursuits.

When I decided to start this blog, I thought I'd call it "Celebrity Cola" as an inside joke. But these "Big Henry" comix are still chuckle-worthy, IMHO, so I thought I'd go ahead and post a few.

Whatevah, right?

Historical note: The only old-school Celebrity Cola story still online is located at, of all things, the website of a company that sells shoe lifts. apparently thought that a parody I wrote was a legit news item, so they picked up the story -- and still have it running as one of their top news articles to this day. They've entitled the fake article "TOM CRUISE WEARS SHOELIFTS!!!!!!" (Personally, I think it's awesome that they stole my text, which describes how Cruise is suffering from a rare disease that makes him shorter by the year.)

Later, my work on the original Celebrity Cola came full circle when I was hired to do some legit field reporting regarding Nicole Kidman for the The National Enquirer. Oh, the irony...


For a look at my other surviving "Big Henry" comic strips, visit:

Comix: Big Henry & Baghead Bob Joyfully Asphyxiate the Bourgeois.

The Final Nail in the Coffin of Punk Rock

If the ongoing pop-punk phenomena, the popularity of faux-punks Avril Lavigne and Kid Rock, dreary rock radio, mass-maufactured hip-hop, Clear Channel, and the corporate-monopoly-controlled music industry had yet to convince you that mainstream music had congealed into the devil incarnate, well, maybe that’s because you’d heard that Creed had finally split up (there is a god!). However, Saturday night, I spit out my tea while watching Saturday Night Live.

And not because SNL was shockingly unfunny (we’re all used to that by now, but I decided to watch because Jude Law was hosting, and I was on a "I Heart Huckabees" high). No, I spit up my Earl Grey because the Punk-fakin’ Ashley Simpson shot her career in the foot on live TV. (Ah! Now this is why SNL is worth watching! Still, it’s a shame Tina Fey hasn’t dumped this albatross in favor of writing and acting in something more decent).

The “Rock ‘n’ Roll” Simpson sister later fessed up to MTV News:

"Ashlee Owns Up, Takes Responsibility For 'SNL' Lip-Synch Snafu" (This article was later updated and renamed to make Ashlee appear more sympathetic. It's now called "Ashlee Blames Gastric Distress For 'SNL' Lip-Synch Snafu" and aims to make the reader feel bad about this terrible medical condition Ashlee has that forced her to lip-sync. Yeah, right? Maybe MTV news wouldn't have changed this article if Ashlee didn't have her own show on the same network. That's the world of hard-core MTV journalism for you. Half-assed Viacom news you can trust as much as your uncle with the booze problem.)

Apparently Simpson was also supposed to act in three SNL skits as well, but, as far as I know, they all got mysteriously scrapped -- so I wonder if she wasn't causing trouble during the entire rehearsal process for the show. I'd bet anything that an angry sound guy or balls-of-steel/career-suicidal associate producer purposely yanked those wrong lip-sync vocals up on her early as revenge of some sort. Which is an awesome thing to do. More talentless hacks need to be exposed like this.

The fact that she first stormed off stage in a hissy fit and then blamed her band for the mistake are clear signs she's a bit of a prissy diva, to say the least -- so much for her being the smart, hip, DIY punk-rocker her marketing machine has sold her as. She hass officially revealed just how much no-talent she has in common with her sister, the walkin 'n' talkin' uber-dumb-blonde-joke Jessica. Watching the smiles grow across the faces of bratty brunette Ash's bandmates (who actually seemed be playing their instruments, and who handled the snafu with professional aplomb, despite the fact that they’re playing in a soulless sell-out band) was priceless.

Of course, Britney Spears got caught lip-syncing non-stop in front a television audience of millions on an HBO special in 2001 (now preserved for prosperity on DVD) and it didn’t hurt her career -- it just became a running joke, and nothing more. And plenty of other pop superstars have overcome the same hurdle with little trouble. With Michael and Janet Jackson, for instance, fans like to defend all the lip-syncing by explaining that the Jacksons “have to dance a lot at the same time.” Well, so do Broadway performers, but they’d never get away with constant lip-syncing; so why should we expect less of our much-better-paid pop stars?

The other excuse often used is that “it wasn’t a lip-syncing, it was just a back-up track used to enhance the vocals!,” which is such B.S. -- if a musician needs electronic backing vocals overpowering their real voice, then they shouldn't be singing in the first place. Why even perform on stage, when it would be much more fun watching professional dancers, super models, or drag queens lip-syncing the paltry tunes instead of the hack singers themselves? Why do audiences fall for this? Why did Jessica Simpson’s record and concert sales skyrocket after she revealed just how brain dead she is on her funny-because-she’s-obnoxious reality show, “Newlyweds”?

And how can we possibly worry about the upcoming presidential elections when the music world is falling down around our designer heels?

Crafting a Cooler Cooter

Aesthetic plastic surgery didn’t hit the general public with resounding force until the 1980s, when facelifts, liposuction, and breast implants became affordable, although movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe were clandestinely enhancing themselves decades earlier. In the new millennium, it’s practically vox populi, but whereas most of these operations are intended to affect areas of the body immediately noticeable by one and all, a new trend has emerged that seeks to sculpt that most hidden and sacred of areas: the vagina.

Until recently, most women wouldn’t have considered vagina-enhancement desirable, but a slow ethical shift among certain elements of the plastic-surgery community has resulted in a new emphasis on vaginoplasty/labioplasty techniques, which are now being marketed for their ability to augment sexual pleasure, aesthetic beauty, and self-esteem.

This art form is not a new one. A substantial subplot of the “Godfather” novel involves Lucy, whose vagina is so huge she can only receive sexual pleasure from the enormously endowed Mafioso Sonny. Eventually she marries a surgeon who performs an invasive vagina-reduction procedure in order to enhance his own small-dicked pleasure. At the time, this was radical stuff, and even in the past few decades vaginoplasty was only performed in severe cases, usually involving vaginal-stretching birth trauma that Kegel exercises failed to rectify.

In an age when fake beach-ball breasts have become passé, designer vaginas are the new must-have rage. Whether you’re a Japanese or Middle-Eastern tourist who needs to have her virginity reinstalled before heading back to the homeland, a giant-vagina mutant who can’t find pleasure, or you simply want your clit-hood removed so you can have easier access to your magic button, well, hundreds of doctors are out there ready to help.

There are legitimate reasons for vagina-anaplasty—pain, lack of sensation, deformity—and the trick is to find a doc that will declare your problem as brutal, so that health insurance will cover the surgery. The question feminists are asking, however, is whether 98% of these cases aren’t simply another paradigm of women trying to conform to men’s twisted ideals, instead of appreciating the uniqueness of their own bodies. And are cosmetic surgeons filling their coffers by creating a need where there was none before?

The most egregious—and popular—example of the designer-vagina phenom, then, is labioplasty, wherein a simple laser treatment can trim, smooth, and tighten inner labia lips (labia minora). Some proponents claim that this procedure enhances sexual pleasure, but as yet that concept is unverified.

What is known is that most females have inner lips that are at least partially exposed, and some women find this embarrassing. The airbrushed and carefully posed vaginas found in men’s magazines, such as Playboy, might be partially to blame, since they promote a smooth, sleek look as normalcy. However, the chauvinistic psychology runs far deeper: For centuries, classical sculptures and art have often showcased perfect clam-shapes with no exposed inner labia; and in the 1960s, revealing the labia minora could change the classification of a girlie mag from pin-up pulp to porn.

In Australia, it’s still illegal for an adult publication to show the inner labia—explicit vaginal shots are okay, so long as the inner lips are airbrushed out. This has made strange bedfellows between the Australian porn industry and Aussie feminists, both of whom see advantages in showcasing the true beautiful individuality of women, big labiums and all.



Salon's "Designer Vaginas," by Debra Ollivier. Excerpt: “Matlock ran his first ad in the L.A. Weekly two years ago. Amid the clutter of ads for big breasts, tight butts, large penises and iron shins, the Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation ad featured a bikini-clad woman writhing in orgasmic delight. The headline read: "You Won't Believe How Good Sex Can Be!" Matlock's phones haven't stopped ringing since.”

UK Channel 4's “Designer Vaginas,” by Jenny Bryan. Excerpt: " 'Some women are conjuring up the idea that their labia are not the right shape and, increasingly, they look at pornographic pictures of labia in men's magazines. But these are often air-brushed, so they're getting a false picture.' "

Guardian Unlimited's "Top to Toe." Excerpt: " 'Vaginal vanity surgeries' are growing in popularity, but there are some major risks....Potential benefits include heightened pleasure for both partners and prolonged orgasms, and a customised size and shape. A laser is used to improve tone, put a stop to stress incontinence, and decrease the diameter." (Originally published in The Observer in the UK).

SBI's "Gambling for Beauty: College Students and Plastic Surgery." Excerpt: "The reduction is performed by removing a middle section of the inner labia and then reattaching the outer skin to the shortened lip. It is done this way, instead of merely trimming the outermost skin, in order to preserve the natural look. According to an article which appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine’s November 1998 issue, the fact that there are still so few surgeons who have experience with this procedure makes it especially risky. An inexperienced surgeon could render the patient with a drastically reduced sensation if too much skin is removed, which causes a loss of sexual pleasure, or a drastic increase in sensation caused by irritated nerves, which would result in a painful situation down below."

Imagine Your Health's "Plastic Surgery Enters the Bedroom." Excerpt: "Bedroom surgeries are not just for men. Procedures are also available for women who feel they need to change the look of their genitalia....The reconstruction process focuses on those areas important to sexual gratification."

Unmasking the Gorgon's "Cunnus Diaboli." Excerpt: "There's a bizarre new trend out there and it's called 'Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation.' Frankly, the very thought of it sickens us.... It's plastic surgery in the same sense as getting a nose or a boob job. Except this time they're taking the scalpel between your legs! cringe Dr. Alter and Dr. Matlock (both men, surprise surprise) have websites on the subject. Check them out for full details on what the surgery entails. Look at the before and after shots on Dr. Alter's site. Frankly, we're having difficulty seeing the dire need for the surgery in any of the vaginas shown."

And the topic is further explored in Sex News Daily's "Sex Tech, Part I: Buy a better vagina";'s labiaplasty entry; the Plastic Surgery Portal's listing of doctors that perform labial rejuvenations; and Betty Dodson's "Viva la Vulva" (Excerpt: "While the other women observe, Betty Dodson points out the individual design of each vulva in the spot light. A Classical cunt with perfect proportions, a Gothic vulva with cathedral shaped arches, a Baroque Pussy with elaborate drapery and an Art Deco yoni with graceful fluted lines. The variation and diversity is like snowflakes: No two vulvas are ever identical.")

And the list goes on -- both pro and con (fix those labia episiotomy scars! Refine that minora/majora! Keep your uniqueness as a woman intact!) -- with cooter re-crafter's especially easy to find in NYC, LA, and Florida (shocking!) and fellows like Dr. Jacobson of tony Greenwich, CT, specializing in Designer Laser Vaginoplasty, Laser Reduction Labioplasty, Laser Perineoplasty, Hymenoplasty, and Combination of DLV with LVR (during which you can get your boobs augmented during the same office visit that reconstructs your vagina. Yes!).

On the medical front, more and more docs are ready and willing to ply this trade:

The Belgium Wellness Kliniek (which features some graphic images and photos, not for the faint of heart or easily offended) brags: "You can decide about the size of your labia yourself!"

And Dr. Pamela J. Loftus of Boca Raton, Florida is a female surgeon with "more than 15 years experience performing" a litany of surgeries that are certainly specialized, if nothing else: "Labiaplasty, Labia Reduction, Vaginal Rejuvenation, Inverted Nipple Correction, Hymen Repair to Restore Virginity, Clitoral Hood Removal, Clitoral Adhesion Removal, Removal of the Hood of the Clitoris, Removal of Clitoral Hood Adhesions, Clitoroplasty, Clitoridotomy, Hoodectomy, Clitoral Hood Release, Labioplasty, Vagina Reduction, Vaginaplasty, Vaginoplasty, Hymenoplasty, Female Cosmetic Genital & Labia Surgery, Labia Majora Augmentation (Enlargement of the Outer Labia Lips, Large Labia Lips) and Mons Pubis Liposuction [pubic liposuction!]."

Dr. Loftus is also not afraid to post tons of no-fooling-around photographs of her work -- it may be graphic nudity, but it's definitely not pornography, that's for sure (it's clinical to the point of frightening).

Perhaps worst of all, the so-called Vagina Institute has published a website that preys both on perverts and women plagued by low self-esteem. Much of the content on the site can only be accessed by paying members, but even in the free area there are enough shapely, waxed ladies explicitly showcasing their nether regions to make viewers wonder "Hey, is this really a medical site, or is it Hustler?" At least a couple of female bloggers have expressed their outrage regarding the site's pro-surgery emphasis and its vagina/vulva "quality test." (WARNING: this site could easily be considered porn, although it's supposedly a scientific research organization.)


It's high time the mainstream press tackles this in a bigger way, considering how prevalent it's becoming. Has Oprah even touched this yet? Perhaps not -- it's one of those dirty little secrets that Googlers love so much, and internet journos can slobber over, but it's not so easy to talk about (or show) on the telly.

Maybe they can start giving away new vaginas on one of those reality shows that fixes up ugly ducklings. It'd be a ratings bonanza.

[Update: Fleshbot and the New York Times both posted labiaplasty articles about a month after I wrote this, so the word is, uhhm, "spreading."]

Indie Filmmaking Resources & Underground Cinema's Caveh Zahedi

Notable Websites:

Short-Film Venues:

Recommended Filmmaking Books:
  • “$30 Film School” by Michael W. Dean
  • “Adventures in the Screen Trade” by William Goldman
  • “Crafting Short Screenplays That Connect” by Claudia H. Johnson
  • “Digital Filmmaking 101: An Essential Guide to Producing Low Budget Movies” by Dale Newton and John Gaspard
  • “Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices: How to Write, Produce, Direct, Shoot, Edit, and Promote a Feature-Length Movie for Less Than $15,000” by Rick Schmidt
  • “From Reel to Deal: Everything You Need to Create a Successful Independent Film” by Dov S-S Simens
  • “How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime” by Roger Corman and Jim Jerome
  • “How to Make an Action Movie for $99” by Andrew Mayne Harter
  • “Make Your Own Damn Movie!: Secrets of a Renegade Director” by Lloyd Kaufman
  • “Rebel Without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player” by Robert Rodriguez
  • “Script Partners: What Makes Film and TV Writing Teams Work” by Claudia Johnson and Matt Stevens
  • “Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting” by Robert McKee
  • “The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age” by Steven Ascher, Edward Pincus, et al.
  • “The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook” by Genevieve Jolliffe and Chris Jones
  • “The Guerilla Film Makers Movie Blueprint” by Chris Jones
  • “The Screenwriter’s Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script” by David Trottier

The above cinema resource list will be updated regularly, so send suggestions my way.


According to a new feature in Back Stage magazine, entitled "Creating Indie Cinema: A Guide to Making Low-Budget Films":

"The rationales for making films are manifold: an undying passion to tell a particular story, a chance at making millions of dollars, or the hope of creating a 'calling card' flick that will result in more work. An actor unhappy with the roles he's been getting (or not getting) might decide to take his career into his own hands by producing a vehicle for himself. A writer unable to sell her screenplays (or tired of seeing her work destroyed by others) may finally direct her own project."

What this opening graph fails to mention is that in the middle of this huge article, there's a great little interview with one of the coolest underground filmmakers on the face of the planet:
Caveh Zahedi.

Also, there's a wealth of inside info from the guys behind InDigEnt, the Sundance Channel,, and others. The article even talks to a super-low-budget (and I mean low) filmmaker that recently paid his rent by appearing in Sam "
Majority Report" Seder's super-funny (and little seen) new Trio sitcom, "Pilot Season."

Key quotes:

“I think actors, especially, would be well-advised to make their own movies,” says award-winning filmmaker Caveh Zahedi. “There’s nothing more painful than waiting around, dependent on someone else to cast you.”
Some people make a distinction between performing and not performing,” Zahedi muses. “But I think that distinction is a little false. People are always performing in some way, and they’re always not performing in some way. I’m just being myself, but what is ‘myself’? It’s a construct on some level. I’m not trying to fake anything, but I’m definitely engaged in a relation with someone else whose gaze I’m aware of, and I’m acting accordingly.”
It’s the beast of necessity—if you have a story you have to tell, and you can only get $10,000 for it, then you should find a way to tell that story, and just do it.”—producer Jake Abraham “I mean, if you’ve only got a VHS camcorder or an old 8mm film camera, go for it. You’ve gotta work with what you’ve got.” —filmmaker Matthew Langdon Weiss
I think the most important thing if you’re an aspiring filmmaker is to get rid of the ‘aspiring.’ How do you do that? You make a film,” Academy Award-winning director James Cameron told The Guardian. “I don’t care if it’s two minutes long and shot on Super 8 or DV or whatever. You shoot it, you put your name on it, you’re a filmmaker. Everything after that, you’re just negotiating your budget.”

For some reason, the full version of this article, when it was posted online at, excluded the handy checklist of indie-film resources found in the print edition. So I've listed this new version of the filmmaking sidebar above (with thanks to the article's original author, of course, who gave me permission to create an updated, hot-linked version of the list since it otherwise wouldn't exist online):


Related Article: Shooting for Success -- An Actor’s Guide to the Student-Filmmaking Experience

Texas Conservative Drinks the Repub KoolAid; Bush Looks for Votes in Space

Over at the “Texas Conservative” blog, there’s an extremely fair-and-balanced comparison between "a Kerry quote and a Bush quote." Actually, Kerry is only given a couple of sentences while Bush is given around 700 words, but one comes to expect that from a site subtitled “Views on current events from a Texas conservative.” So when I say “extremely fair-and-balanced,” I mean that in it’s new sense of “wholly influenced by an Australian uber-conservative that’s got his dirty mitts all over American politcs thanks to a certain media empire.”

Texas Blogger calls Bush’s speech a "vision that will keep generations of Americans safer", but the way I read it, it's the opposite -- it's a protest against peace and a rallying cry for endless war. Kerry hasn't taken an "easy path of protest and defeatism," as Bush says. He's taken on the tough task of battling against a popular and powerful president that he knew, from the start, would drag his name through the mud no matter how clean his life had been.

If Bush had launched a U.S. invasion of Iran or North Korea, or if he'd cracked down on Saudi Arabia or bulked up our forces in Afghanistan, then perhaps I could see the logic behind his actions. But, instead, we attack an economically shattered country with a second-rate dictator, a crappy arms program, and no plans of attacking the U.S. (the much ballyhooed instances of Saddam paying rewards to the family of terrorists never – or at least almost never – coincided with attacks against the U.S.)

And Osama and Saddam were enemies!

All right, in truth, I've got no problem with Saddam or his sons being taken out -- and installing Democracy in Iraq is a noble idea -- but we had higher priorities on the list of nations that needed their asses kicked. So Bush's logic rings false. Also we know that Bush & Co. were already planning an attack on Iraq from BEFORE Sept. 11, so it's scandalous that Bush is still pretending that Sept. 11 is what drove him on this Crusade.

Kerry wasn't "changed" by Sept. 11 because he already loved and respected his country and was already prepared to protect his country from any threat. Sept. 11 was a terrible event, but for those who weren't in the midst of the fray, it's not the sort of thing that has to fundamentally alter one's viewpoint (disclosure: I was in NYC at the time of 9/11). Instead, Kerry has simply become more alert about foreign threats, as we all have become more alert. Alert does not have to imply fundamental and eternal change – but “not changed” also does not imply an inability to learn from an experience.

Bush, on the other hand, was "changed" only in the sense that he was changed from being an unpopular president (who lost the popular vote) to being the Commander in Chief of a Nation Under Attack. And he took advantage by using America's fear as an excuse to settle old scores (took advantage being the key phrase here, reminding me of Nabokov’s use of the phrase in his Humbert Humbert poem: "Because you took advantage of a sinner/because you took advantage/because you took/because you took advantage of my disadvantage).

Kerry is full of rhetoric and bullshit much of the time, admittedly, but he can't touch Bush in these departments -- because Bush is an amazing bullshitter. He's King Bushitter.

Look at this part of his quote:

"He has complained that my administration -- quote -- 'relies unwisely on the threat of military preemption against terrorist organizations.' Let me repeat that. He says that preemptive action is ‘unwise,’ not only against regimes, but even against terrorist organizations."

This is ingenious (and disingenuous), because the first part actually does reflect a Kerry statement (out of context), but then, after Bush says "let me repeat that", he doesn't actually repeat the statement at all, and instead says something entirely new -- an entirely new and outlandish statement said in the (false) context of being a quote from Kerry, but parsed in such a way that the statement could be defended as not being a lie, exactly, but an interpretation (a bad one).

What Kerry is actually saying is that it’s unwise for Bush to RELY on this strategy. He’s not saying the strategy should be completely abandoned, but instead is pointing out the folly of relying (solely relying) on such a potentially destructive, lethal, and limited solution.

That being said, Kerry’s own ideas are limited in nature and not incredibly groundbreaking, but how anyone can believe in Bushes rhetoric is incredible, because it’s all so far from any shred of truth.

Oh, Bush has done one good thing. As governor of Texas, he helped give Texas Astronauts the right to vote from outer space:

Backdoor Friends: Ballerina Book Pirouettes on A** Sex for the Aristocracy

Now that backdoor-lovin’ has become such a standard topic in literature, p*rn, and popular culture, I wonder if gay men will have to resort to vaginal-lovin’ in order to remain hip and edgy.

A couple of weeks ago I was reading about the revelations of an rear-entrance-sex-addict ballerina in the New York Observer's “The Ballerina Who Bent” ... which tells the tale of a semi-distinguished former member of the prestigious New York City Ballet that has written a memoir about the joys of taking it up the bottom ("The Surrender"). It’s like an episode of Howard Stern, only with class.

The great thing about the Observer story is how the author, Alexandra Jacobsit, subtly makes the dancer in question, ç, seem like she has a neurotic fixation with her former mentor, George Balanchine. I don’t think he ever got a piece of her bum, but she drops his name every five minutes.

According to the Observer, both Bentley and plastic-surgery-obsessed porn-celebrity-model-thing Jenna Jameson (who has also written an anal-heavy memoir, "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale") have only done the back-door with 2 or 3 guys apiece (or so they say in their new not-tell-all-but-tell-lots books), but with the fellows they DID do it with, they did it a LOT. The ballerina babe being especially keen for getting her booty pounded by Mr. Right, as she proves by keeping all her used secret-brown-button sex condoms in "a beautiful, tall, round, hand-painted, Chinese lacquered box."

Sounds like a good, wholesome ass book, right? And it's a high-time for erotic memoirs, what with Melissa P.'s top-selling true-tale a of a teen gone naughty Euro hit, "100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed", making such a big splash in the U.S. now.

A few years ago, Toni Bentley also wrote (among other works) an article in the LA Times all about why the Dance World shouldn't allow affirmative action for Fat Girls: “Counterpunch: Critic's Argument for Heftier Dancers is Thin.” It’s a serious piece, but I find it quite funny (Quote: "Should round little girls be admitted to professional ballet schools?"). After all, fat girls in tutus are always funny -- and always dancing through my head.


I'd included an excerpt from Bentley's bang-it-in-my-buns bedroom tell-all below, since the link to the official excerpt keeps breaking. I'd hoped I wouldn't anger the copyright gods by using this material, since I'm, uh, doing this as, uh, a literary public service and everything.... And after several years I never got a single complaint, until 2010, when Google Adsense wrote me to say that the subject matter of the text on this page was in "violation" of their policies and my account may be disabled if I didn't remove the "sexually explicit text." So, I've removed the text and instead linked to the same excerpt in the Google Books database (I guess it's okay for Google Books to violate Google Adsense's sexually-explicit-memoir ballerina-sodomy policies):

"The Surrender : An Erotic Memoir," by Toni Bentley

Chapter Excerpt from Chapter One

This pleasure is such that nothing can interfere with it,
and the object that serves it cannot, in savoring it, fail to
be transported to the third heaven. No other is as good,
no other can satisfy as fully both of the individuals who
indulge in it, and those who have experienced it can revert
to other things only with difficulty.

His was first. In my a**.


The foregoing is excerpted from "The Surrender" by Toni Bentley (via Google Book's copy of Mitzi Szereto's "The World's Best Sex Writing 2005," page 77). All rights reserved, HarperCollins Publishers, ReganBooks, Thunder's Mouth Press, Avalon Publishing, etc. More links to articles concerning this book and interviews with the dancin', prancin', sex-lovin' author can be found under the heading "Rectal Romance" at the FleshBot.

Screwing (and Swinging) the Vote

Sexually adventurous couples swing, some even fuck on swings, and kids in the schoolyard giggle and laugh as they push each other on swings (until they get sick and toss their half-digested bologna all over the jungle gym). “Swinging” can mean you’re getting laid by someone other than your significant other (good), or it might mean that you simply like the tunage of Benny Goodman (also good). But the most powerful swingers of all are undoubtedly the swing voters, a fine mixture of wishy-washy vermin and balanced judges of minutia that are always a prime target of lustful politicos looking to poach a few extra caves for their herd.

According to a USA Today analysis tool, there are now approximately 8 million swing-voting households in the United States, not including the fringe votes of parties like the Greens, Libertarians, and Neo-Nazis. Most of these middle-of-the-road vote-makers are middle-class, home-centered families living in either smaller cities or the densely populated suburbs of a nearby metropolis. These potential swingers are not necessarily registered as independent or undeclared—in fact, many are registered Democrat and Republican—but they have indicated that they’re not overly loyal to their party of choice. (The USA Today Report: "Year before election, many are undecided".)

This is refreshing, considering how much of America has fallen into the trap of perceiving politics as a black-and-white football match: You choose a team for virtually circumstantial reasons (you agree with a couple of their issues, or your pops was a Democrat, or whatever), and then you root for that team and all their causes until the day you die—regardless of how despicable a candidate may be or how ludicrous all but two of their keys issues are—if for no other reason than so you can treat the presidential elections like the Super Bowl. It’s the Yankees vs. the Mets; Chevy vs. Ford; the Big Mac vs. the Whopper. And the mainstream media, with it’s “there’s only two sides to every debate” mentality, is fostering this pugilist perception for every juicy ounce of it’s marketing value.

Sure, there are always a couple million old hippies and college kids who will vote for a Nader, and crowded bunkers filled with shaky paranoid gunmen who will root for a Buchanan, but beside the typical independent thinkers, intellectuals, vegans, lost souls, and psychotic cases, it’s hard to believe that millions of Middle Americans still have enough sense to not only vote (considering that a majority of eligible voters don’t actually vote in most elections, and only 58% vote in the presidential race), but to actually take a while to make up their minds. The massive money-chest of G.W. Bush, for instance, may eventually persuade some of these folks to vote Republican, thanks to a barrage of high-voltage campaign ads, but at least these people are attempting to put some thought into their decisions before the massive P.R. machines of the two-party system wipes their minds spanking clean.

Regrettably, all the latest data points to a fading of swingers. Only an estimated 10% of the electorate is still interesting in fooling around, essentially. Everyone else has picked a party and a one-dimensional viewpoint, they’re eating fast-food and listening to bad pop music, and they’re happy to vote for the same party again and again, regardless of the candidate, because they’re to busy discussing Janet Jackson’s exposed boob and Michael Jackson’s exposed predilection for children to actually read up on what the candidates stand for beyond the superficial sound bites.

However, national polling suggests that the 2004 elections are going to be so sharply divided that the swing vote, no matter how small, is still likely to decide the final outcome. This puts the swingers in an incredibly powerful position, even if they decide to vote on a candidate based solely on his haircut, how good he looks in a flight suit, or how hot his wife is.

The polling director at ABC News notes that independents and white Catholics are the only swing groups that have significantly affected elections in the past couple of decades, despite media hype over “Soccer Moms” and “NASCAR Dads” ("Driving the Election? Speculation that ‘NASCAR Dads’ Will Decide the 2004 Vote May Be Off Track"). And it’s widely known that the 2004 race will probably come down to just a handful of swing states (visit for stats). But there’s hope in the air that a new wave of young voters could change the national dynamic.

The youth vote has always been gauged as one of the most likely groups to swing, as young adults attempt to come to terms with their political standpoints. But in this election, the percentage of potential voters under the age of 25 has jumped from 7.8% to 17%, thanks to the Gen Y kids turning 18 at an average rate of 4 million per year—although traditionally a majority of the under-25 population doesn’t even bother to vote. The good news: reports that in the 2004 Iowa Caucasus, the number of voters under the age of 30 quadrupled from 2000, an indication that the swinging vote of the young might be chased after by the candidates like a pack of dogs chasing a bitch in heat.

And remember: Swinging is like marijuana. It can lead to far more dangerous things. First the swingers try a little piece of Democratic nookie, then a little Republican tushy…the next thing you know, and these 8 million Middle Americans might be voting for a peace-loving, drug-legalizing, monopoly-busting, health-care-promoting wunderkind. It could happen. But swinging is easiest when you’re not alone, so try giving everyone you know a rib-bruising push, and watch ‘em swing. If that doesn’t work, try couple swapping—that way, even if the best candidate doesn’t win, at least you’re getting laid.

HUBBARD & DICK—"Dianetics" vs. "Valis"

And the last of my book reviews (for this month, anyway):

'Dianetics' vs. 'Valis,' Sci-Fi Spiritual Guides

Philip K. Dick and L. Ron Hubbard were both brilliant philosophical thinkers, but appreciation of their work has been marginalized by the fact that they were writers of pulp science fiction. Psychologically perceptive and metaphysically curious, both men had a keen eye for understanding and decoding the human condition. Occasionally couching their philosophies in cutting-edge futurist thought, they nevertheless managed to formulate groundbreaking theories on the nature of existence itself.

Their paths depart, however, as their bibliographies progress: Dick kept most of his ontological explorations firmly rooted within the context of his fiction, and later in life seemed to be on a Gnostic-influenced voyage with no definite answers. Hubbard, on the other hand, saved up his deepest insights for his latter-day nonfiction works, such as his breakthrough 1951 self-help manual, “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.”

“Dianetics” passionately refutes modern-day psychology and psychiatry as being ridiculously primitive—Hubbard is so determined to dispose of Freudian psychology, in fact, that he neurotically keeps the word “unconsciousness” in quotes throughout the entire 700-page work. He proposes a “reactive mind” instead—one filled with debilitating “engrams.”

Similar to the concept of humans having a “reptilian” mind left over as an evolutionary remnant, the idea of the “reactive mind” is fleshed out in astounding ways. The conclusions Hubbard ultimately reaches are debatable, and his research and experiments at times seem sketchy and dubious; but his thoughtful explorations have possibly influenced some of the most important theories of the last 30 years, although few would admit it.

For instance, the influential concept of “selfish genes” described by scientist Richard Dawkins in 1976 has a predecessor in Hubbard’s proposal of evolution and man’s need to survive. And the Dawkins-inspired “meme,” described in 1999 in Susan Blackmore’s “The Meme Machine,” bears similarities to the “Dianetics” engram concept that language can have a virus-like power all its own.

The big problem with “Dianetics”: It can become mind numbingly repetitive, it has a musty smell of New Agey self-help neo-spiritualism, and it too often mistakes it’s own philosophical theories for scientific fact.

But Hubbard does manage to liven things up by repeatedly referring to loose women, sexual perversions, and even “prenatal” rape. According to Hubbard, your dad having sex with your mom while you were still in her womb probably really fucked your “preclear” self up. But don’t worry, “Dianetics” can help.

Regrettably, “Dianetics” never gets into the really fun Scientology stuff involving the alien “Thetan” spirits, the evil Galactic Leader Xenu, levitation, or any of the other smacked-out-awesome ideas rumored to be found in the “Dianetics”-based religion. Oh well, if Hubbard won’t tell us his secrets, then who wants to help me found the Church of Philip K. Dick? Let Dick’s semi-autobiographical, spiritual, sci-fi masterpiece—“Valis”—lead the way.

(Note: Dick's final three books--all ingenious--are commonly, but not officially, called The Valis Trilogy. The first book is "Valis," and the final two volumes are: "The Divine Invasion" and "The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.")

And just for fun, here's an alternate review of just "Dianetics":

“Dianetics,” by L. Ron Hubbard

Tired of all these religions that laugh in the face of modern science, spit at Darwin’s evolution, don’t promise salvation until after you’re dead, and go jumping up and down for a bloody jihad every chance they get? Well worry no more! Scientology is here to help you with your ills. It’s like Deepak Chopra for the modern-science minded; Unitarian Universalism without the lingering Christian vestiges; or Ralph Nader in a flying saucer, totally whooping some Republican ass (but, umm, in a peaceful sort of way).

However, before you snuggle up with the chosen church of Johnny Travolta, read the book that started it all: “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health,” an even-tempered, thoughtful, ambitious, and clever attempt at trying to codify a new set of metaphysical, psychological, and philosophical laws that explain human nature, make a science of the human mind, and have the potential to relieve human suffering, increase happiness and intelligence, and cure the common cold (seriously). Oh, and if everyone uses this tome, then all wars will come to an end as well. Isn’t that swell? So don’t be a cynical bastard: Buy this book.

Only, try to ignore the fact that it gets pretty boring and repetitive and the internal logic doesn’t always seem to hold up—or else all the circular reasoning will eventually give you a facial tick. While Hubbard incessantly claims, without proper documentation, that everything is “fact” and has been “scientifically tested,” he neurotically puts quotation marks around every occurrence of the word “unconsciousness” and chatters on forever about “engrams” in your ”reactive mind” making you do bad things. But he does manage to liven things up by repeatedly referring to loose women, sexual perversions, and rape. Prenatal rape is an especially hot topic: Mommy and daddy having sex with you in mommy’s belly probably really fucked your “preclear” self up with some nasty engrams, from the sound of it.

Regrettably, “Dianetics” never gets into the really fun Scientology stuff involving the alien “Thetan” spirits, the evil Galactic Leader Xenu, levitation, or any of the other smacked-out-awesome ideas rumored to be found in Tom Cruise’s favorite religion.


Additional facts and links:

  • George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (1866, 1872, or 1877-1949), a spiritual philosopher that merged Eastern and Western religious and philosophical ideas (and founded of “The Work”), is often referenced as having had a profound influence on Hubbard’s Scientology concepts. And much like Scientology, the modern Practical Philosophy Foundation (US)/School of Economic Science (UK) was influenced by Gurdjieff.

  • Kevin Langdon raises some interesting ideas (and mentions both Scientology and Gurdjieff) in his alternative exploration of the question “What Is This Life?

  • Scientology's mysterious Operating Thetan phases/sections are nicely critiqued and partially exposed at the OT III Scholarship Page; and a full critique of Scientology is located at Operation Clambake (

  • And no look into Hubbard is complete without a visit to the official Church of Scientology website.

  • Although there have been horror stories of people being brainwashed by the Church of Scientology and having all their money taken away, I think you could find just as many tales of mainstream religions changing the personalities of their parishioners and asking for as much cash as they can get. Before labeling Scientology a cult and not giving it respect as a legitimate religion, one must ask, "WHAT IS A CULT?"

  • My only real beef with Scientologists is their hatred of psychology and psychiatrists. Hubbard's thoughts in "Dianetics" are clearly derived from or influenced by the roots of the psychological sciences/philosophies, so it's ridiculous for him to completely deny their legitimacy. I give him credit for offering a unique opposing view to psychology (especially during Hubbard's lifetime, when mental institutions still thought wholesale lobotomies weren't such a bad idea), but the idea that modern psychiatry and psychotherapy should be completely abandoned is just absurd. Especially considering the large holes found in Hubbard's own "scientific" work... if he's correct in saying that psychology is nothing more than a philospohy with little scientific proof, his followers should be swift enough to notice that he's at least guilty of the same crime (perhaps even more so, since he mixes philosophy, science, religion, and inventive speculation together so liberally).

  • Cool factoid from Jon Atack’s “Possible origins for Dianetics and Scientology” : “During the late 1930s and the 1940s, Hubbard corresponded with and visited fellow adventure writer [and "Fictioneers" founder] Arthur J. Burks. Burks' own work shares much of the philosophical basis of Hubbard's. Hubbard got into print before Burks, but the Hubbard Archive contains many copies of letters exchanged by Burks and Hubbard. These letters if produced would show the extent of Hubbard's plagiarism of Burks.” (After reading Atack's full article, you can't help but respect Hubbard for being so well read. He derived his ideas from a vast spectrum of sources.)

  • Martin Amis' "Time's Arrow"

    Possibly Pointless Book Review #2:

    What if the order of time is nothing more than human perception? In Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five,” a theory is proposed that the individual moments in life are the essential components of existence, no matter what order those events take place. At one point, the protagonist, Billy, perceives a war film in reverse: Instead of building bombs, the factory workers in the film dissemble their weapons. They are bringers of peace, not war.

    Martin Amis expertly weaves this concept throughout a serpentine plot in “Time’s Arrow,” where the world runs in reverse to everything we’ve ever known. Humans are born from the grave, growing younger and younger until they begin an intense platonic relationship with a woman who eventually becomes their only love, their mother, whose breasts they will suckle for countless hours; until the day they enact the most intimate act imaginable, merging with their caretaker. In the end, their father will use sex to rip the last spark of their existence in two, stealing their life energy for himself.

    Amis ups the ante by spinning his story around a Nazi-era doctor. In this world, physicians bring corpses to life, insert cancer into healthy patients, and break perfect bones. And the Nazis aren’t burning Jews: They’re creating them—by the millions.

    "Gargantua and Pantagruel"

    I thought I'd pop off a few short book reviews of tomes that may be of interest:

    First up is “Gargantua and Pantagruel”:

    A 16th-century medical doctor and Catholic monk, François Rabelais spent decades writing a series of five books, collectively known as “Gargantua and Pantagruel,” that became wildly popular for their dark and bawdy humor. To this day, the massive tome still ruffles religious feathers. The current edition of The Catholic Encyclopedia calls Rabelais “a revolutionary who attacked all the past, scholasticism, the monks; his religion is scarcely more than that of a spiritually-minded pagan…. His vocabulary is rich and picturesque, but licentious and filthy.”

    Sex, drinking, utopian ideals, and heretical philosophy populate this fantastical saga that follows the adventures of a giant and his son. What’s even more intriguing are the multitude of hidden messages, Gnostic insights, alchemical secrets, and herbal obsessions (e.g., cannabis) that bubble far beneath the surface of these tall tales.

    Hey, the book is dated, no doubt. But it can still get the Church's metaphorical cloisters all bundled up in a ruffle... so don't let the Pope catch ya readin' it, son.

    Dear Gay Dude(s),

    Just wanted to let you know that I support you, man.

    Looking back over the past year, I thought Arnold Schwarzenegger's response to the gay marriage topic was reasonable: it's currently against the law, so don't do it until it's legal (although, admittedly, the California resolution making it illegal in the first place is incredibly disturbing and should have had more national attention and elicited more powerful and ongoing protest then it did; not from the gay community, but from the liberal community at large). Some might call it a coward’s viewpoint, but for a man being backed by conservative money, it’s a smart, accurate, non-offensive view. And his public (but off-the-stump) comments that he actually wouldn’t mind gay marriage would seem to make him braver than many Democrat politicians.

    Arnold’s stand is exactly the stand that Bush should have taken. Bush’s administration had taken great care to quietly cater to the growing (and mind-boggling) “gay conservative movement”, even hiring some gays, despite the conflict that this posed with the Christian Right. Personally, I saw it as simply more Republican lip-service-only pandering to special-interest groups, just as Bush occasionally pretends to care about the Latin community--“let’s bring in the gay and Latino vote! They’re suckers!”

    However, admittedly, the Bush administration did a better job of hiring racial minorities and women to important positions (and some gays as well, from what I understand, although their positions are obviously not in the center of the limelight) than the Clinton administration (Clinton signed the “Defense of Marriage Act, let’s not forget). So perhaps their viewpoints were not as close-minded as I suspected, I thought. I didn’t really believe it, because I could smell the stink of evil from a mile away -- but it’s interesting to see the Republicans actually hiring minorities and even pushing for minority Supreme Court justices, while the Democrats can’t seem to attract/appoint the liberal equivalent of a Condoleeza Rice, Clarence Thomas, or Colin Powell well. Where are the hypocrites here? Who are the true reformists?

    If Bush had been smart, he would have kept this approach -- the Arnold approach -- of trying to appeal to as wide of a voter base as possible, of slowly building up a conservative following for the Republican party even among traditional Democratic groups such as the Latinos, gays, blacks, Jews, etc. All he had to do was follow the traditional conservative belief in “state’s rights”, and claim that while he personally believed that marriage was between a man and a woman, it was up to the states to decide. If he had done this, even the Christian Right would have had little room to scold him, since they’re typically passionate about state’s rights. And he would have forced Kerry into a tough corner, Kerry’s soft and nebulous stand would have become marginalize and co-opted.

    Instead, Bush has made himself out to look like a Constitution-changing zealot. Combine this with the rising deficit (which is upsetting conservative budget hawks), the Patriot Act (which is upsetting conservatives and Libertarians who are anti-big government and extremely pro-privacy), the WMD/Iraq/Afghanistan fiascos, the horrible economy, the tax cuts that have had negligible effect on just about everyone but the rich, and the polarizing effect Bush seems to have on issues such as gay marriage, the Middle East, the environment, the United Nations, etc. . . . well, hopefully the population of the U.S.A. is finally waking up to the fact that Bush (and, more especially, the Republican arch-conservatives, ex-Nixonites, war hawks, corporate lobbyists, and Evangelicals managing and funding Bush) are a severe danger to our free society.

    My only problem is swallowing my disdain for Kerry long enough to vote for him, instead of voting for someone like Nader again. I voted Perot in 1996 as a protest vote, and Nader in 2000 because I actually believed him. But this time I might put down a vote for Kerry, simply because he’s “not that bad.” Just a regular, old, boring, pandering politician.

    And yet, this is a razor’s edge we tread on, where we find ourselves forced choosing between a military-industrial-complex reactionary war-hawk and a professed Christian, war hero, rich moderate career politician who not only can’t bring himself to say (outright) that he supports gay marriage, but also is widely known to have accepted more money from lobbyists than almost any other Senator. We call these CHOICES?

    I sincerely hope that the new generation offers up stronger political candidates -- politicians of vision, honesty, and acceptance. So, far, though, I’m troubled by what I see.

    Repubs Tear Up the Vote

    "Earlier this week former employees of Sproul & Associates (operating under the name Voters Outreach of America), a firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters, told a Nevada TV station that their supervisors systematically tore up Democratic registrations. The accusations are backed by physical evidence and appear credible. Officials have begun a criminal investigation into reports of similar actions by Sproul in Oregon," says PAUL KRUGMAN in a NY Times Op-Ed piece (NY Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Block the Vote).

    Op-Eds shouldn't be trusted any more than -- well, any more than a ranting blogger, I'd say. But the thing with ranting bloggers (and Op-Eders) is that sometimes they're right. And if this Nevada tale holds water for longer than a typical Nevada lawn does, then somebody better get thrown in the slammer for this one. Yeah, yeah ... we've heard stories like this a million times before, but to try and pull this off when everyone is finally paying attention ... when everyone is just WAITING for the next Florida 2000 to happen ... that's takes some chutzpah. Evil chutzpah.

    RollingStone - Politically Cool Again?

    The mighty world of music journalism has fallen to its broken knees in recent years, at least in the realm of mainstream print publications. Rolling Stone leaves much to be desired, of course, while Spin sputters hopefully along and Blender hides its sometimes-sharp music coverage between copious pages of bikinis, engorged bosoms, and bad lad-mag humor. The only thing really going for these pubs at all is their name-brands and corporate backing -- they can be found on any newsstand, they're supported by scads of advertising dollars, and full subscriptions can be picked up for under six bucks a year. Still, they suck.

    The best options available are the excellent British imports Q , NME (New Musical Express), Uncut, and Mojo, all of which are horribly overpriced once they reach the States. To satisfy their music jones, American readers are left with only a handful of expensive, hard to find, and sometimes-amateurish zines and specialty mags (indie, rap, alternative, hip-hop, country...). So the most powerful melody criticism today, perhaps, is free: Namely, Pitchfork Media and a smattering of indie websites have become reliable and innovative in a way the print mags have not.

    And yet something is missing. The overarching vision of Rolling Stone provided not just rock coverage, or even mere music coverage -- RS, in its prime, plugged into the energy of rawk and the youth culture while also keeping a smart, watchful eye on fashion, politics, films, and international affairs. Groundbreaking writers of fact and fiction crawled from the pits of RS and ran amok in the mainstream media. The world of music flavored every story, every theme, every liberal bias and investigative article, but there was still more to this mag than just one topic, genre, or specialty. Pitchfork, Magnet, Under the Radar, the Brit mags -- they can't touch this. The legend of the Stone is too great.

    On the one hand, even the best of the new breed of music publications wrongly ignore lifestyle trends, general-interest topics, and politics while locking themselves into genre boxes and writing with erudite fervor that's magnanimous to none but the chosen few. On the other hand, mags like RS, Spin, and Billboard are under the complete command of the corporate music empire. And while the music and movie reviews found in weeklies The Village Voice and Time Out New York are usually superior than those found in the latter, as local NY event-listing pubs they're severely limited in their national influence.

    Former RS writer Lester Bangs once said, "I think a lot of the music that's out right now and a lot of the writers who are out right now, they both deserve one another. Because they both have no personality and no real style of their own and no soul.... They're just... a lot of them are academics. I mean, do you like to read them?"

    Well, Lester, what other choice do we have?

    When you're in the market for a monthly music lifestyle magazine, it all comes back to the Stone. Thankfully, they're slightly more palatable these days.

    Besides bringing the groovy slash-and-burn comic "Get Your War On" to the public's attention, Rolling Stone has gotten a wee bit more of a rock edge ever since their kinda slow and low-key relaunch a couple years ago, but they're still hopelessly not as relevant or edgy as they think they are (or once were). However, as with much of the music industry, the election season has really poured some hot sauce on their testicles, and the simmering dislike they've had for Bush and the war has finally hit a fever pitch of Montezuma’s revenge-like explosions.

    An October 2004 RS story by Matt Taibbi, "Bush Like Me: Ten weeks undercover in the grass roots of the Republican Party," isn't as long, sordid, or engaging as one might hope (kinda like that date I had last night), but it's full of biting humor and piquant insights.... its only failing, really, is that it leaves the reader wanting more, because what's provided is so well done... to go undercover with Republican Campaigners in Orlando, FL ... well, I've spent a lot of time in Orlando, and let me assure you, other than the nearby Fat Lands (the myriad Theme Parks), it is indeed a wasteland of the half-dead and the half-insane. Florida never gets the full Redneck credit it deserves, in my opinion (unless you count the dead-on portrayal found in the James Spader camp classic, "The New Kids".)

    Still, Rolling Stone has dominated the market for too long. This is our grandparents' magazine, and just as it's sad watching our grandparents go to seed, it's unnerving to watch a legend like RS ungracefully approach death, nearing the Reaper with each passing decade. But that doesn't mean we can't live our own lives. When will the new breed at last grow into the guitar straps of its ancestors; or will the current generation be remembered only for coy, smug non-nudity, non-informative girlie books like FHM, Maxim, Stuff, and Blender?


    [Speaking of Florida, the DailyKosmonaut's Tom Schaller recently asked, "The President is swinging through Florida. Wonder if he's gonna chastise his brother for mishandling of the felon voter list -- again. Democracy on the march, or in retreat?" The answers on this open thread are intriguing.]


    Post election update:

    We'll have to wait and see how Rolling Stone reacts to another four years with Bush in office -- will the rebellious age of rock reign again, or will tepid pop keep puttering along? Currently, things are not looking so good.

    And how ironic is it that the only consistently good thing about a youth-oriented music magazine is the movie criticism written by an older fella (I don't know his exact age, but Peter Travers was a film critic for People magazine 20 years ago, so he's been around.)

    Traver's movie reviews are easily the best part of Rolling Stone these days.... With every issue I find myself skipping to the back of the mag to read his coverage -- I never agree with him 100%, but he's a sharp writer with grand taste. On the other hand, the music reviews are spotty and RS is lacking critics with strong, individual voices (well, the editorial vision of the paper keeps them neutered, anyway), the music news and gossip is usually tepid, and the top-drawer investigative and cultural pieces are infrequent.

    Every time Rolling Stone wants to seem legitimate again, they do a well-researched retrospective of rock or pop from 20, 30, 50 years ago. Then, a month or two later, they’re back to sticking an overly airbrushed Britney Spears or a flash-in-the-pan American Idol winner on their cover. It’s as if they’re saying we have to look into the past, or we have to gaze into the soul of the corporation. There is nothing in between.


    Related article:

    In "The Bad Boy On the Bus," Mother Jones interviews Matt Taibbi regarding his new book, writing for Rolling Stone, being the new Hunter S. Thompson, and the not-so-funny New York Press Pope story that got him and his boss unfairly canned.

    Oh, well, speaking of lesbians...

    That last debate was like a love fest -- I thought Kerry and Bush were going to start tongue kissing the moderator in the ears. He was spoon-feeding to both of them, and at the end they all had a nice laugh about their wives and I swear it looked like Bush was going to hug/punch Kerry at the end of the debate, right after the final handshake (it was an odd little moment).

    Kerry won the oral contest, but not hands down -- I mean, he only won it, in my opinion, because Bush is a giggling, grinning numbskull, and not because Kerry is a great debater, despite the pundits' post-debate spin. True, Kerry has been more concise, dynamic, and leader-like in the debating arena than in his half-wit stumping on talk shows or meandering, boilerplate campaign speeches. But I know 10-year-olds that could've gotten more jabs in against Bush's faulty policy reasoning and factual distortions, so why do analysts keep repeating a mantra about Kerry being a super-skilled debater that could make mince out of the best in the biz?

    To paraphrase 200 different mainstream media types: "Kerry is one of the greatest debaters in the world, but Bush could still win it with his down-home, good-ole-boy style." Yeah, of the two bible-quoting, smirking millionaires running for president, Bush gets down-home/regular-guy status because he talks with a slight southern twang and has the vocabulary of a guy who never had to attend class because his parents could buy his way out of trouble (hot damn, he's one of us, Duke!) while Kerry must be the Great Debater because he's boring as shit drying on pavement, and boring means "smart."

    Now, I've heard a couple of these so-called swing voters say dumb things like "Well, Kerry does seem smarter, but Bush is going to protect our right to marriage!" Dumb mutherf***ers.... Yeah, that's right, even though Kerry is also anti-gay-marriage (the wuss) and is instead for some vague civil-union equal-rights thing, what he's actually going to do is ban all hetero marriage if you elect him, so you better vote for Bush... good grief. HOW DUMB ARE THESE PEOPLE?!

    And I did like how Kerry stomped on Bush involving the "Global Test" thing and his senate record -- really put him in his place and just straight-out told it like it is. It was interesting how Bush couldn't follow up after that, and instead could only repeat the same trite phrases again and again. But maybe it's the repetition of these hackneyed catchphrases that actually gets into the thick skulls of the swing voters and the Repubs.

    Two things I didn't understand:

    1) Why Kerry let Bush dominate the discussion on education. Kerry barely even touched on it, but it's always been a Democratic platform, so I was surprised that he mostly handed it to Bush.

    2) How any working-class American can still support Bush after he said that the way he'd handle unemployment and outsourcing was by giving people more education and job training (has the government ever offered you job training? 'Cause they've never offered me job training. And if the jobs are outsourced, what jobs will be left to train for?).

    Didn't he actually say something like, "My 'No CHILD Left Behind Act' is kinda like a 'No JOB Left Behind Act' if you actually think about it. If you lose your job at the manufacturing plant, that's okay -- 'cause I'll write you a $200 Pell Grant check -- money in your pocket! -- and send you to Community College, where that Pell Grant will pay for at least two of your text books while your family starves and you can't afford to buy gas, you dumb redneck! Money in your Pocket! Education! Whooo-ha!" Was it just my magic ears -- OR DID BUSH BASICALLY SAY JUST THAT?!??


    BOB SCHIEFFER: "Mr. President, what do you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who's being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in the United States?"

    PREZO GB II: "... here's some trade adjustment assistance money for you to go a community college in your neighborhood, a community college which is providing the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st century. "

    Now, wait a second, I thought the Republicans were opposed to federally funded education -- kinda like socialized health care, isn't it? Kinda... Canadian? Hmmmmm...

    And when computer jobs are being outsourced to India and all manufacturing jobs are disappearing and Bush is cutting welfare .... how useful, really, will a $300 Federal Pell Grant be to a guy who's just been laid off? That'll buy a few textbooks, but it won't get him a new job or put food on the table for the kids... Don't get me wrong, I'm all for free college, but Bush is NOT paying for everyone's college. He just isn't. Who's falling for this, anyway?

    Oh, I remember, it's the people listening to this guy:


    For a laugh, check out his "Truth Detector", where Rush gets to play the underdog and the triumphant king at the same time: "Smart People Know Kerry Has Never Led This Race," he says, and even blames the Dems for trying to steal the Florida election through the mighty power of Bill Clinton or some such Alice in Wonderland logic.

    There's a Gay in My Closet!

    In the NY Daily News, in a story headlined "Kerry's gay ploy backfires ," Zev Chafets says "Since the debate, the Christian right has been rallying to the side of Mary Cheney. Well-known political preachers like Jerry Falwell and James Dobson have gone out of their way to defend her right to privacy."

    Yeah: They're defending her right to stay in hidden away in a closet, somewhere completely out of site, like any respectable homo should if she has any respect for her God-fearing parents.

    Personally, I clapped when Kerry brought up Cheney's daughter. I was like, "Score!" And she's completely fair game, mind you, because she's actively working on the Bush/Cheney campaign -- i.e., as the chief campaign manager for her father, she's a public figure and a member of the camp trying to defeat Kerry. So why can't her mention her sexuality?

    She's already out of the closet, and he wasn't smearing her good name.... He was just suggesting that maybe Bush and the Far Right should consider allowing gays to have Equal Rights, just as it would be logical to assume that the Vice President might want his own daughter (and campaign manager!) to have equal rights.

    So I'm surprised that the polls have turned on ol' sour-pussed JFK II on this issue. According to numerous reports, supposedly even Democrats and gays are offended that he "stooped that low."

    But I'm thinkin': "this guy didn't STOOP. He told it LIKE IT IS." Geez.

    But no, the public supposedly doesn't see it that way. And now Kerry is reeling back in the dogs:


    Dick's darling daughter, Mary Cheney, has been openly gay for at least a few years now, but it wasn't until recently that her parents finally began admitting it publicly.

    In a New York Times piece, entitled "Cheney Daughter's Political Role Disappoints Some Gay Activists," we're reminded that in a "2000 television interview" where Cheney-the-Wife is asked about having having a daughter " 'who has now declared that she is openly gay,' Ms. Cheney quickly responded, 'Mary has never declared such a thing'."

    However, the Cheney's have now jumped to Mary's defense, and Dick C is even said to be against the Prez on the Anti-Gay-Marriage-Constitutional-Amendment bit. Who woulda thought that Richard "Halliburton" Cheney would actually turn out to be less evil than good ol' buddy-boy Bush on ANY issue? I guess when it's a family affair it's a different story..... Now if only one of the Bush Twits (er, Twins... I mean, Presidential Daughters) would come out of the closet. Or, better yet, it's high time GWB's mother came out. You can't tell me you never got the vibe.....

    And finally, Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has collected more views on how Kerry stepped over the line (I just don't get it - he called the kettle black, stood up for her rights, and then moved on, what was so bad? But then, maybe I'm not the most sensitive guy):

    "I think it was a major blunder by Kerry -- especially as his position on gay marriage is the same as the President's."

    Why Catholics Should Vote for Baby Killers (just so long as they confess later, natch)

    Well, the editorial page of the WSJ is always clicking away:

    In "A Voter's Guide: Pro-choice candidates and church teaching," Archbishop John J. Myers gives us a fair and balanced view of the candidates.

    It's actually a very interesting article. Full of insights and wisdom. Perhaps just a tad one-sided.

    Oh, you know, like when it implies that John Kerry and the left in general supports "the legalized killing of human beings in the embryonic and fetal stages of development by abortion or in biomedical research."

    Now wait a damn second:

    No one on the left is actually advocating producing "tens of thousands of human lives ... each year for the purpose of being 'sacrificed' " to the cause of embryonic research, are they? Maybe I didn't get the memo.

    But as far as I remember, that's not what's being asked for at all. The "conservatives" (what are they conserving? not nature or gas, I assume...) are so good at making this kinda stuff up it makes me giddy with delight. Life must be a constant episode of "The Twilight Zone" for the republican marketing guys. This WSJ archbishop perhaps stayed up too late eating Cheetos and watching "Soylent Green," before writing his op-ed piece.

    It's exactly this sort of twisting around of the facts that has convinced the likes of Ron Reagan Jr. to speak up in favor of increased stem-cell research; because the right is trying to demonize the issue by pretending that babies are going to be purposefully produced and slaughtered.... I can't believe the Wall Street Journal is getting away with perpetrating this myth.)

    But alright, let's say that abortion is the key issue here. What if you take into account the idea that neither Bush nor Kerry will be able to actually reverse or protect Roe vs. Wade -- and that everything either of them says to the contrary is just grandstanding? If this were the case, then it might partially negate the issue and allow a Catholic to vote for Kerry for other reasons, instead of "Precisely because of a candidate's permissive stand on abortion," as the church suggests.

    The war, as this article mentions, was not condoned by the Pope. Nor is capital punishment.

    There's a very good editorial in the National Catholic Reporter on this very issue: "Partisans try to narrow Catholics’ choices".

    ALSO, When it comes to ranking up the overall Catholic qualities of all U.S. Senators, Kerry ranks higher than any Democrat or Republican (admittedly, this is from a Democrat’s study, so bias could be found, I'm sure). Kerry beats everyone on most issues except for the abortion issue, where he scores a dismal (but not zero) rating.

    " [WASHINGTON, DC] – Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and other Catholic senators today released an analysis of votes and actions of Catholic Senators based on the official positions taken on legislation by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).... 'Unfortunately, recent media attention has focused on one or two priorities of the Catholic Church, while obscuring others. This has made it more difficult for Catholic voters to understand the full range of issues that have been identified by the USCCB as priorities for public life,' said Senator Durbin. 'What we have done today is to use the criteria established by the U.S. Catholic Bishops to give voters an insight into the voting records of Catholic senators.' "

    I'd reccomend glancing over the analysis in it's summary form, but the full report is also available as as a PDF.

    "But wait!," you say. Despite all of the above evidence, you still can't bring yourself to vote for a dirty Dem. That's fine. Vote Nader. He's fiscally responsible. He won't bite. He likes seatbelts. He's a good guy. Heck, if you were going to vote for Bush anyway, then why not go all the way and put a write-in vote for Buchanan on the ballot. Buchanan or Nader. Those are your choices. Bush will eat your children. There. I said it. It must be true. Maybe the Wall Street Journal will publish it -- it seems right up their op-ed alley.

    Here's the best news of all, though, straight from the Catholic Church itself:

    If you've voted for a pro-abortion politician, you'll be okay -- just so long as you go to confession before your next communion.

    "Forgive me Father, for I voted for Kerry today... Five Hail Mary's? Ahhh ... shucks...."

    Now, isn't going through that after every election a heck of a lot easier than having to get Born Again again (and again and again and ...) ? That's why Catholics are the hardest rockin' Christians ever, dude man.

    The Democrats Find God - Kinda

    In a story titled "Kerry Speech at Church Highlights Double Standard," the Family Research Council (FRC) jumps on a Washington Post story about a black church throwing it's support behind Kerry.

    It noted that a "pastor of the Miami church endorsed Kerry from the pulpit in almost messianic terms, telling his congregation, "For every Goliath, God has a David. For every Calvary's cross, God has a Christ Jesus. To bring our country out of despair, discouragement, despondency, and disgust, God has a John Kerry."

    Hyperbole? Sure. But being so close to an election, one expects this sort of cheerleading on both sides. However, the FRC saw it as pure hypocrisy on behalf of the dirty liberals: "Recall the outcry from Barry Lynn and the left when Pastor Ronnie Floyd instructed his congregation to 'vote God'? Can you imagine the outcry that would arise from the Democrats and the liberal media if President Bush made an appearance like Senator Kerry's, and similar things were said about him? They would be pressing to have the church's tax exemption lifted the next day."

    In reality, however, this is only hypocrisy if Kerry was among those who joined in the fight against Pastor Ronnie Floyd. As far as I know, he wasn't. It's a group called "Americans United for Separation of Church and State" that's causing the double standard. What was done with Floyd was just more dirty politics executed by organizations with (supposedly) no direct connection to the candidates -- something we've been seeing more and more of lately.

    What the Bush guys did to McCain in the 2000 primaries (the confirmed spreading of rumors involving his wife's unconfirmed drug problems, the use of "push polling" to coerce votes, third-party groups distributing slanderous flyers) was just as bad as the Pastor Ronnie Floyd IRS switcheroo some left-wingers tried to pull off on Bush. The same could be said for this "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" debacle that Bush supporters have pulled on Kerry. Bush keeps his hands (mostly) clean of all this stuff, just as Kerry kept his hands (mostly) clean of Pastor Ronnie Floyd. But it happens nonetheless.

    It's an endemic of the current system, and the system needs to be cleaned up. But these little games cannot be pinned on Kerry or the liberals in general as a double standard any more so than they can be pinned on Bush or the right-wingers. It's a larger problem -- it's a problem about political parties trying to win by any means necessary, instead of truly playing by moral standards or in defense of principals.

    John F. Kerry is supported by some church groups and Bush is supported by others. However, it's interesting that the African-American churches are rallying behind JFK II while the hard-line Catholics have tagged GB II as their man. There was a time when both these groups would have been sure-thing Democrats, and logically they still should be....

    Other than the abortion issue (which Kerry dances around like a prickly pear), boring old JFK II is probably the safer bet for Catholics, in my paranoid mind, because the Evangelicals (the most fervent George Bush supporters) historically have had a seething hatred of Catholics.

    Oh, the Evangelicals and Catholics are cozy enough at the moment, but Protestant vs. Catholic animosity has merely sunk beneath the surface, I suspect. I've met quite a few people who only rank Catholics a few circles up in Dante’s inferno -- just above the Jews and Muslims. Spend a couple of years in the Deep South, Florida included, and once people get to feel comfortable around you they might tell you about how the Catholics are all idol worshippers that are surely burn -- I was told this many a time, first hand, in a kindly and genteel manner, of course.

    When it comes down to it, the extreme-right wings of the Catholic and Protestant churches make for good political bedfellows -- they both certainly have little use for these crazy agnostics and atheists. And Buddhists and Hindus aren't even worth mentioning. And due to Middle East policies, the Jews are even finding support in the Christian community.

    But make no mistake: the Christians think the Jews are going to Hell and the Evangelicals, in particular, know the Catholics are going to Hell, and the Catholics reckon all non-Catholics (and most Catholics, for that matter) are getting sent to Purgatory at least for a little while. While attending high school in Florida, I was shocked to learn that there were even a few kids that didn't realize Catholics were Christians (I wish I was kidding).

    They thought Catholics were like Jews -- shared some of the same bible stories and prayers and maybe the same God, but otherwise were worshipping up an entirely different theological burning bush. (Listening to a Baptist history teacher trying to explain to these kids that Protestants actually came after Catholics -- thus the word Protest in Protestant -- was worth the price of admission, 'cause these stalwarts did not like the idea that they were a spin-off of the Mary-Statue-Worshipping wackos. Of course, it was a public school, as may have guessed, so admission was free).

    But back to the real topic at hand: This is simply not the fiscally responsible Republican party that once was -- it's a mix of the most paranoid Nixonites with the most fervent Televangelists. Wait, was that the topic at hand, or is it just wishful thinking on my part?

    Ah, yes, here we go: The double standard and hypocrisy found in the political system must be scrubbed clean to the best of our ability. Both on the left and the right. And I even agree with the Family Research Council on at least one aspect of their article: "We should favor a single standard that defends religious liberty and freedom of speech for all -- including ... pastors who want to address the moral dimension of political decisions from the pulpit, regardless of their views."

    Let the churches say what they want -- and then let the people make up their own minds. It can be a tricky issue, because of the tax-dodge questions rasied, but it's just not a good idea to force churches -- or anyone -- to not support a candidate or issue publicly, because the exclusion of a truth is in fact a lie. Besides, we could always just reclassify churches as tax-exempt 527 Advocacy Groups instead of places of worship (it's all one and the same, isn't it?)