Thursday, September 30, 2010

The BMW Philosophy

This rant, originally written in 2007, predicts my experience with dating and sex in SoCal even more than it describes my situation in Chicago during the original writing.

                If Becker’s analysis of anality and Straus’s take on the sexuality of obsessives are at all accurate (and both anecdote and intuition say they are), it is no small wonder the heterosexual American men of my generation are so pre-occupied with anal intercourse in its various forms. Such intercourse in its cultural context is the intersection of anality with the reduction of our potentially life-affirming sexual natures to nothing more than the non-unifying acts of obsessives driven by our neurotic culture to assuage (pun intended) each other’s existential lonelinesses through the pursuit of what has become just another empty marker of success, the passage of time, or a false notion of self-worth.

Anal sex is this decade’s BMW.

                If you’re male or male-oriented, you’ve gotta have it if you want to be viewed in a positive light; if you want the envy of your peers; if you want to achieve that debauched, luxuriant feeling so necessary in keeping you obsessed with shame—obsessed with obsession at least—instead of free to enjoy the perfect, creative, limitless forces brought about by real, unforced, unhurried, unscripted intimacy. Of which all possible sexual behaviors are clearly a vital part, with the difference being an intangible sense of co-being, of cooperation, harmony, beauty, unity, and comfort rather than a sense of performing, of worry, of shame/guilt, of isolation even in such close quarters.

                I am only at this point in my life realizing the cardinality of shame in the average American sexuality. Raised outside both religion and atheism, I was damned with neither shame nor an irresponsible amount of personal liberty, but was instead blessed with common sense and balance. Unfortunately for me, those traits are not at all valuable in this society, where one is required to be a Puritan above the table and a libertine beneath it (neither of which acts under his own volition but under pressures from above and from below). I end up feeling isolated not as a result of any incapacity for unity, but as a result of my extreme and thorough difference.

                Granted, part of my blessing/curse is my lack of interest in being male-oriented/masculine and my enjoyment of my feminine identity and thought. Part is also my facility with words and thereby with certain insights, and my need to use both in (arguably) poetic forms. As Ernest Becker reminds me today, “[M]an’s utter bafflement at the sheer non-sense of creation…to take such a miracle [as feminine beauty] and put miracles again within it, deep in the mystery of eyes that peer out—the eye that gave even the dry Darwin a chill: to do all this, and to combine it with an anus that shits! It is too much.” According to him, our daily intimacy with the persistent, irreconcilable paradox of being fully human—and of knowing it—mired knee-deep in shit, nevertheless having, as Oscar Wilde put it, “a view of the stars,” is the reason “poets live in torture.” (The Denial of Death, Part I, Ch. 3.)

                Thus tortured am I, and baffled that so few admit to being baffled and instead choose a sort of purposeful furious path to forgetting through getting and getting and getting. I have chosen, as have a few others before me, “to live deliberately,” neither forgetting nor regretting my humanity and all its facets.

Still You're Surprised When I Eat Ya?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SoCal Singlehood: So Very Necessary

First posted to Facebook on August 3, 2010.

It is always sad to look back on the moment during which one realized one could not grow old with the man one has recently loved.

The moments themselves differ. Some are lights which dawn slowly, over months or years, and like the dawn one shields one's eyes so as to stay in bed a little while longer in the peace, in the night, in the past. Some strike like lightening, quick and deadly, making one run for cover. Others still are anti-climactic, a roar so dull one can go out afterwards and sit calmly in a bar with the man in question. One could even remain friendly with him if he weren't such a terrible bore.

And that's what I must have been looking for, all this while, despite my frequent insistence that my genetic makeup will never let me see 40, let alone a comfortable dotage of watercolors and early suppers. Someone I'd like to grow old with--"like" being the operative word. Someone who's there in the night not just to snore but to comfort. Someone who can move his lips now and then without lying, or boasting, or boring me to tears with orders, complaints, or idiocy. Someone whose mind broadens instead of narrowing with the years. Someone who is man enough to brave the unconditional.

Why haven't I found him yet, you may ask? I've been looking in the wrong place. In fact, I've found my way to the epicenter of wrong placedness. In the U.S., old age is the ugliest prospect imaginable. And Southern California was where the notion of old age as ugliness was born. Here men speak, shuddering in disgust, without any heart, in mixed company, of dried-up old-lady vaginas. They cheerfully suggest plastic surgery to minimize the sum of one's parts, maximize one's objectification, and make one younger. They consider one's natural state not just an imperfection to be corrected, but an affront to their delicate sensiblities, an insult to their friends, and an embarrassingly public sign that one does not really love them.

The ridiculousness of it is wholly ignored. Men themselves have begun to police their own beings with the same Puritanical fervor. Questions of grooming have taken on the import once reserved for matters of religion or of state. Small wonder that matters of religion and state now occupy such infinitessimal space in the minds of American men. Small wonder that matters of love can no longer exist.

One can try, once the future of one's love has been brought to its end by this means, to ignore it and enjoy the short while one remains young--new--in the eyes of one's lover. One can let the comments about this woman looking old and that woman not belonging in public roll off one's back. Sooner or later, though, it will strip all the skin off. It will leave worse scars than a hail of bullets, than a whip, than shrapnel. Because isn't it true that love between two people, romantic love, requires a future? The possibility of a future? Otherwise it is nostalgia, grief, or just another not-so-interesting night in the sack. In the present live all one's self-exaggerated imperfections, which, one fears, must necessarily become shameful, hideous, in just a matter of years--no! Of months.

For isn't he looking at you now the same way he looked at the woman he just took special care to insult? Doesn't he see you with the same arbitrary eyes which so harshly judge the size, shape, fashionability, coiffure, and general acceptability of all that is feminine? Doesn't he kiss you with the same lips from which spew a frightening vitriol against the audacity of ugly women? Then it is only the hands of the clock which hold him back from directing his poison at you. When they have moved, lightening will strike.

I, playing the fool, have managed to hang around several of these SoCal types long enough to feel that venom (A SoCal type is not limited to those unfortunates who were born here, but to all those who came here seeking Double F breasts on 18 year old 5'2" 90 pound blondes). It was at first a horrible experience, though now it seems more or less standard--and when abuse starts to feel like the norm, it's long past time to get yourself out of the storm.

It continues to shock me, not that men would feel this way, for clearly most of them have always and will forever hate women, but that they would be so impolite, so impolitic, so self-righteous about it. More shocking still is that no one has seen fit to point out to these men their utter hypocrisy, for in their terrible behavior they have rendered themselves the ugliest beings of all.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm Completely Unoriginal (Sad Trombone)

The Hip Parade

L.A.'s recent FYF Music Fest (FYF= Fuck Yeah Fest) showcased some real SoCal Martians, reminding me yet again that I will never be hip. I'm just too Planet Earthy.

The lineup consisted of three stages full of bands representing hardcore, punk, post-punk (which is so cool I don't even know what it is), indie, stoner rock, electronica, contemporary folk, and something called "psychedelic doom." My Indie cred, previously at negative 812, was boosted to 5 just by showing up and standing in line with a bunch of 20 year old girls courting yeast infections by wearing too-tight skinny jeans in 90 degree heat. Making it all the way to the last show, Panda Bear (from Animal Collective, if that means anything to you--I confess it means nothing to me), raised that cred to at least 30. I earned that cred the hardest possible way--twelve hours of standing around with nothing to do but gawk at the Hipster flora and fauna while pretending that the huge waves of pot smoke bothered me no more now than they did when I was 16. ("Damn these kids today. And why is the music so loud?")

My little excursion (which included a literal trip down Memory Lane--a street in Santa Ana that led us to Polly's Pie Palace, whose brilliant marketing copy included the cartoon word-bubble "Pie is American!") led me to devise a new game. Feel free to play it while standing in line at your next concert for ridiculous people in SoCal: Hipster Bingo.

The rules are much like the Bingo game we all knew and hated as children (and will hate again as bluehairs in a depressing church basement somewhere). No one calls out letters and numbers; instead, as they see them, players check off Hipster cliches on game cards.

Cards include such Hipster necessities as black patchy punk skinny jeans, spider web elbow tattoo, ridiculously expensive messenger bag, Mohawk, Camel Crushes, knit wool hat in 90 degree heat, preppy Oxford tucked in over a fat ass in linen pants a la Vampire Weekend, glasses with ridiculous frames, California Goldrush beards on 19 year-old boys, blonde Afros, sockless Oxford shoes, and of course, the tee shirt so ironic it bores even me. Additional Hipster accoutrements include huge purple thigh bruises exposed under mini-minis (usually on women, but not always), ripped fishnet stockings, handmade purses, Smiths buttons, neon-framed Wayfarers, dirty hair, hoods attached to nothing, infants named Eudora breastfeeding while their parents munch Falafel and discuss the relative upsides to terrorism, keffiyehs (Arab head scarves worn as neck scarves by Hipsters--although this trend is slowing mightily--too popular), form-fitting flannel shirts, canvas boat shoes, sockless loafers, capri pants on men, mental lists of obscure band names to trot out in every conversation, and copies of Noam Chomsky books with titles in print large enough to read from a very great distance.
There can be cards made for forays into the dens of Hipsters with items such as beer brewing equipment, sauerkraut fermenting in a bucket, vegan non-cooked cookies (or any evidence of a restrictive and trendy diet), hydroponic grow rooms, Apple products, a creme brulee torch, mid-century modern lamps, absinthe, dog-eared philosophy books, ironic ashtrays, and at least one cat.

Hipster Bingo cards can be further deconstructed into specific camps of Hipsters. There are those who espouse the preppy 1980's look, those who espouse the punk 1980's look, those who espouse the grunge/hardcore 1990's look, those who long for the days of Goth, those who go in for Indie, and those who are nerdy engineers looking to get laid by a kite-high, compassionate Hipster chick. Generally speaking, the Hipster chooses his or her "look" based solely on its relative unattractiveness on his or her body type, shooting for the Bulgiest Ever award.

The one thing every Hipster everywhere agrees on? Morrissey is hip. No matter what. No matter where. No matter when. Whatever your opinion on his music, you simply must respect his cross-functional hipdom.

The list of Hipster cliches is so long as to be nearly inexhaustible, so make up your own cards and play anywhere, anytime. When you do, post the results here.