Thursday, November 21, 2013

What Men REALLY Think About [Fill In The Blank]



By: Ben Johnson


Hmm hmmm. Blowjobs blowjobs.

Wait what are we talking about? [Fill in the blank]? Uh. Okay, me, you can do this. Just turn on your brain and point it towards [fill in the blank] and see what comes spilling out. You gotta do it. People are gonna know you’re an idiot. Come on. Don’t be an idiot. Let’s go. [Fill in the blank].

Let’s see. There’s this one thing I heard one time from somebody who knows more than me. I could just say that. Yeah, okay. Fine. Say that. Wait. Say you read it in a thing first so these people don’t think you’re some kind of a phony.

“I think I read an article or something about…”

Okay good. That went well. They read that too.

Oh. That’s why they started talking about it. Good move, idiot. You’re all caught up to basic idiot level in this conversation. Nice. This is gonna be just fucking great. Shh. Stay positive. Come on.

Okay they’re going to still talk about this for a while. Okay.

Wait. Why am I even having this conversation? I don’t care about [fill in the blank]. What I REALLY think about [fill in the blank] is “who the fuck cares?”

But, okay, I can’t just say “who the fuck cares.” These people might the fuck care. Glasses over there. THAT is a person who cares so much the fuck about [fill in the blank] they have no sense of humor about it.

[Fill in the blank]. Come on. Say something kind of pithy that indicates you know about the subject and could talk more about it if required to, but would rather not, and maybe let’s talk about something else now. Politely. To your date and/or weird person with big teeth at a wedding and/or other person’s family member and/or the website editor with the glasses. [Fill in the blank]. Fucking [fill in the blank]. Come on, smart guy, don’t just stand there with your mouth half open like a drooling hillbilly. THINK something about [fill in the blank]. 

Man, I fucking hate this.

FUCK [FILL IN THE BLANK].

No, dummy, don’t say that. Don’t be an asshole. What’s the nicest possible version of a thing you can say about [fill in the blank]? Start with that. Oh, no, wait, do this: when somebody else says something negative on the subject of [fill in the blank], defend it in a general way, that way you’re not the one being negative. That’s good. Nobody likes a negative person. Okay, there. Glasses. Glasses said a negative thing.

“I don’t know, isn’t that the whole point of a [fill in the blank]?”

Okay, okay, mixed results. That came out like I really really know the whole point of [fill in the blank]. Hedge.

“I mean, that’s what it seems like to me.” Now smile like we all agree about this.

Uh oh. Why do I feel like that didn’t work? This feels like one of those bad silences. Let’s see: “whole point,” okay that was bad, “just what it seems like to me,” not great but at least I made it just about me… and then the knowing smile. Oh God. Made it about me and then the knowing smile. I’m a cock. I sound like a cock when I talk.

Say another thing. No! Wait! Ask! Ask something. Ask what they think. People like talking again. Shit. They’re already talking. They’re already mad. You missed it. You blew it. You’re such an idiot. You’re an asshole. God, fuck, they know. They all know what an idiot asshole you are. Oh shit this sucks. Now the person who said the negative thing about [fill in the blank], Fucking Glasses, is really mad at you. You chose the wrong side against the wrong person, buddy. That’s what you get for being an idiot and an asshole. Glasses is right. Glasses is dead right.

Hey wait. Stick up for yourself. What the fuck are you doing? This person is yelling at you because you’re wrong about a fucking [fill in the blank]? Fuck them. You’re not the idiot or the asshole. THEY’RE the idiot or the asshole. Do something. Say something. Don’t sit there and let Glasses lecture you about [fill in the blank]. You don’t give a shit about [fill in the blank], and you don’t give a shit about Glasses. Stand your ground.

“Yeah, but who cares?”

Good one.

Oh wait. NOT GOOD ONE.

Glasses is fucking MAD. Looks like Big Teeth is on Team Glasses. Okay. What’s going on here? 

Try. Figure this out.

Why are these people so mad? Are they mad about [fill in the blank]? They can’t be. Nobody can be that mad about [fill in the blank]. It doesn’t make any sense. They could be a certain amount mad about [fill in the blank], but not THIS mad. So they’re also mad about something else. 

Okay. Me. They're mad at me. THIS mad at me? I said like three things. I might suck, but not THAT much. These people are upset about extra things. It's like I'm the thing they've been mad at all along, and I just now showed up and opened up my idiot asshole mouth, and now they're gonna wail on me.

Oh man, Glasses. Teeing off on me because they didn’t have anybody to yell at earlier when they dropped their keys and bent over to pick them up and their favorite shirt got a hole in it because of the stupid sharp fence thing or before that when they had to pay ComEd a $120 “transfer deposit” because their credit sucks or before that when the Walgreens guy was rude. Something like that?

No, wait, I'm being dismissive. That’s what’s making Glasses mad. That I'm dismissive. That's the thing. I'm being dismissive just like how sharp fence and ComEd and the Walgreens dude were dismissive. And now they’re yelling about [fill in the blank] because they actually know about it and I don’t, and worse, I don’t even care, and I'm acting like I know about it even though I don’t, not as much as they do, and also I don’t even listen. Okay. They are right about all of this, sure. They had a bad day, got dismissed a bunch, and I show up and make it worse instead of better. Totally my fault.

Okay, this is an upset person. Being upset is good. All emotions are good. Upset helps people stand up for themselves. Okay. They're standing up to me, and they're standing up to sharp fences and ComEd and Walgreens guys. All at once. That's good. This is helping this person. They need this. Don't take it personally. Except if it helps to take it personally, then take it personally. But only so personally. Figure that out later. Right now you've got an upset person to focus on. What's upset? A stress response. Sabre-toothed tigers.

Okay so I'm a sabre-toothed tiger, and I'm here to rip their guts out with my ill-informed opinion about [fill in the blank], and my casual attitude towards [fill in the blank], clearly a very important thing in today’s modern world, is indicative of a much larger and disturbing pattern which ALSO includes sharp fences (circumstance), ComEd (power structures), and Walgreens guys (prevailing attitudes) and is even more upsetting. Life can get like an inescapable sabre-toothed tiger pile no matter who you are. So that's them in this. Me in this is I'm an asshole and an idiot and I talk about things like I know what I'm saying even when I don't because I'm afraid people will find out I'm an idiot. I'm too worried about myself. I don't even listen to other people. Okay, yes, that is me. That is what I have done.

I'm not even listening to them while they tell me all this. They’re saying this to me, "you don't listen," and they are right. Even right now, I am not even listening. Instead I am retreating to a safe place inside of myself, because they are also a sabre-toothed tiger, and they are here to humiliate me and feast on my warm idiot innards for their nourishment.

Okay. This is an upset person. Hell, I'm getting upset now, even. No. That's two upset people. Two is worse than one. Zero is best. What this person needs is to be empathized with so they can stop being upset. Step one: Don’t be upset. Do not be upset. Tell them not to be upset. No wait. Opposite of that. Let them win. Apologize. Sincerely and honestly. Cop to being an idiot. This should be easy.

“I’m sorry. Looks like I have a lot to learn about [fill in the blank].”

Okay. They’re getting the last word. Okay. That's fine. Shut up. Okay. Take it. Let them be upset. Okay. That worked. 

That’s over now. Okay.

Assessment: next time, when the subject is [fill in the blank] or even [fill in the blank], what you’re going to do is keep your fucking idiot mouth SHUT, okay idiot? You shut up and listen and out might learn something and maybe that way you won't be an idiot.

Or: you are an idiot. Just be an idiot. That's okay. You would make a lot more friends if you just walked around going “I’m an idiot, a duh DUH DUH,” than when you open your stupid idiot mouth and pretend you know or care about something you do NOT know or care about. 

Side assessment: do not ever openly disagree with Glasses. I have to ask myself if this person is Glasses first, and then if the answer is yes I have to smile and nod until they're gone. Glasses is a bear trap. Glasses is right. You don't listen. You don't listen and you don't use your eye to watch out for bear traps like Glasses. 

Man, the world is so difficult. So many rules to memorize. I feel totally demoralized right now. Oh God. Please please the rest of the night, please nobody ask me for my opinion about anything. Oh God I want to die. Just crawl into a hole and die.

Hey. There it is. That’s what I REALLY think about [fill in the blank].

Trying to talk about [fill in the blank] makes me want to crawl in a hole and die.

That’s my answer for everything from now on. Except loud rock music, sports, and… that’s it. Loud rock music and sports. That’s all I got. Oh and movies. I guess I could talk about movies. And cars. I don’t really give a shit about cars, but I could talk about cars and probably nobody’s gonna get too mad at me. Rock music, sports, movies in a pinch, cars if I have to, the weather, and small talk about dogs. That’s it. That’s all I have to offer the world.

Christ I am drained. Speaking of: I wish I was getting a blowjob. Oh man I love those. Blowjobs blowjobs. Hmmm mmm.

The Cinder Block Story

By: Kelly McClure


Even on a sinking ship, the desire to pretend that everything is fine is all consuming. The passing of time does more than add lines to our faces and weight on our backs, it coats us with a warm, numbing goo that forever whispers "everything will be fine." Even if it's not. Even if you know it. Because what is the alternative? Everything NOT being fine? That would require work. And we're exhausted. YOU are exhausted.

Everything is fine.

However ...

The mustard seed of truth is real. The nagging suspicion that plagues your mind the minute your head hits the pillow and keeps it up until the sun washes everything away in blinding distraction. Something is wrong. Something IS wrong. If you lay flat enough and prevent your mind from drifting away from the idea - of the wrongness that IS there - it will float to the surface as your numbness is pushed down like a blanket from the pressure rushing up around you.

Your muscles twitch as it first hits you. The wrongness. An electricity runs up your back and collects at your throat, taking your breath away and causing your organs to lose their sense of gravity. You struggle. Bubbles rise to the surface. You float downward, into the wet darkness that you have suspected all along was there. The wood of your structure bloats and creaks - doing its part to keep you contained for as long as it can. There must be a breaking point. It breaks at the moment your lungs fill with water - your ears and the wood of the boat burst at the same time. Boards and slivers of wood drifting away from you as everything goes black and your salt joins the mix. Something was wrong. It still is. But now it's not your problem anymore.There was a time you thought "I can't do this anymore," and it was a wish to the world that stuck.

There is work to be done. Who will do all of this work?

Three weeks ago I sat across from my Dad at his kitchen table in rural Illinois. It was a sunny day. Cold, but not too cold. Normal. The streets outside were quiet because most people were at work, but we were taken out of all of that routine, put onto a different timeline, because something was wrong. The table we sat at was covered with a large lace doily and a large glass vase filled with fake flowers. The flowers were caked with dust. If you were to ask my father where these flowers came from, he wouldn't know. If you were to look at these flowers a year from now, they would still be covered in dust, if they were even still there, and they probably would be because where else would they go, and who cares? My mother bought those flowers and my mother set up that table. Now my mother is gone. Into the mix. Sucked out of the goo. Gone. Gone so far down that if I were to reach into the water to grab her back out - reach down so far that my arms were completely submerged and my chest lay flat right up on it. Right up on all that salt. I wouldn't find her. My dad tells me a story.

"You know, on our first date - your mother and me - I was driving her back home to the farm. We were in my first Mustang and there wasn't a light in sight. It was a clear night, and we were driving - and I had my right arm around your mother. Out of nowhere this huge cinder block came ripping through the dark, not even bouncing up from the road or anything, but from straight ahead, and shattered the windshield." He took a long pause while I just stared at these fucked up dusty flowers. "I think about that now and you know what I think? I think that was an omen."

There is something wrong.
Who will do all of this work?

It is never more apparent that life is just a passing, crumbling of uncertain time than when you're suffering a loss. And it's never more apparent that you never knew what "loss" even meant, until you experience the absolute snuffing of a flame. THE flame. The fleshy, hot, salty, loud, quiet, mean, kind, stingy, generous, always there, always there no matter what, vessel of cells that brought you here. Your ship. It's sailed. What now? And what now? Just gotta float around I guess.

It's like body surfing. The remembering part. Calm nothing, and then rocking. Laps of images - at random times hit your whole body. Your chin pressed against the cold leather shoulder of a jacket in winter as you're being carried somewhere. The smell of hairspray. The smell of perfume. The sight of a smile turning into a frown. The smell of cigarettes. The smell of peppermint gum. A tone. A laugh. An inside joke. A red Jeep driving away.

Gone is gone. Like gone gone gone gone GONE. And I know that there's a God because this pain is bigger than the moon and the stars put together. Otherworldly.

@WolfieVibes

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I Am A Sexist Pig And I Live In A Hole


By: Ben Johnson


Ever try to dig your way out of a hole in a frenzy of desperation? Of course not. Nobody has been in that situation. It's a common metaphor, though. Ever huffed ether from an American Flag before entering Circus Circus in 1971 with a possibly apocryphal deranged composite character buddy? Of course you have. "You can actually watch yourself yourself behaving in this terrible way, but you can't control it." I imagine it's like trying to dig your way out of a hole.

Now try talking about sexism or racism or anything, really, when you're a heterosexual white guy. It's the same. You're in a hole and all you have is this shovel, and you go "maybe if I..." and then you try, delicately, to articulate the perfect angle of the shovel into the dirt, and then no matter what more dirt falls on you and you're still in a hole, and you start flailing wildly and nothing helps.

You're not supposed to talk. You're supposed to listen. You're supposed to sit in your hole until somebody helps you out. Like everybody else. Sit in your hole until you die, for all the world cares. The world has a few bones to pick with you anyway. That’s what I’m talking about with the hole thing.

I got in another little Twitter spat recently. It was childish, like all Twitter spats, and entirely my fault, like all Twitter spats I am involved in. Basically I said a bunch of stupid stuff that I don't really care about and therefore regret saying, about a thing I didn't even try to understand, to a person who was already upset before I got there. That about sums it up. You know: a fuckup. A human thing. The lesson I keep not learning. Keep your mouth shut and stay in your hole.

You can read my twitter feed for the particulars, but beware: you will be bored. 

Twitter fights are stupid. Using Twitter as a referendum on who's right and who's wrong when you're limited to 140 characters and only people who already like you can see what you're saying is also pretty stupid. But I don't want to minimize what I did. I, a white heterosexual dude, said some things, publicly, on the subject of feminism that some very respectable people found unsuitably feminist, and I said them in an unfeminist manner, and then I backpedaled like a typical misogynist chickenshit. Now I'm writing a blog post about all of this. All of which is something I chose to do with my time instead of shoving my phone up my ass and singing "I'm A Little Teapot," which would have been equally sensible, just as relevant, and arguably more productive.

I am a sexist.

I'm not proud of that, but there it is. I'm not a woman, I don't know what it's like to be a woman, I can't ever know what it's like to be a woman, and so on a fundamental level, as much as I hate to admit it, I don't care what it’s like to be a woman. Sure, I can put on my "empathetic to all human plight regardless of gender" helmet, and try to respect everybody as a human being on this difficult and fascinating journey we call life, but sometimes I fuck up and dehumanize somebody who's taking seven minutes to decide what holiday stamps they want to buy when I'm in line at the post office, and then instead of Kumbaya it’s “Move it you cretin, some of us have very important LP’s to ship to a guy in Belgium.” That this is probably a common flaw for all people doesn’t excuse it. I still have to do my best.

Unfortunately, even at my very most empathetic, my point of view is only ever going to come from my white guy brain, and it is going to be skewed and unrealistic. I am never going to relate to what it's like to be a woman. I can try harder than currently, but the closest I can ever get is some shadow of a thing, rife with inaccuracies, and I will be justifiably yelled at for getting it wrong if I'm ever stupid enough to try and share it. I guess the idea is to fail and then learn. But it's frustrating. Trying your best and then being told your best isn't good enough is frustrating. It can make you want to not try.

I'd theorize here that this feeling of frustration is common to the general plight of women as well, but that's probably patronizing. I really can't say anything about that. It won't help the world, and it sure as shit won't help me. Stay in your hole. Shut up. Don't open your mouth about feminism if you're a dude. It's a bummer when you talk, is the point. Listen. Try. As hard as you can, but harder. Grow. Try even harder than you even can. Listen. Grow some more. Grow until you are a tyrannosaurus of understanding, quietly crying alone in a hole.

Don't expect any empathy from anybody else. You don't deserve it because you're the problem. You don't like it, tough shit. Take it like a man. Them's the breaks. You are in a position of privilege, and in order to be considered a good person by the rest of us, you have to deny that privilege as often as possible.

It's a pretty tall order. Sometimes I just let it drop. All of us white guys do, more or less. That's why everything's still so fucked up. Being transgressive can feel fun and liberating. Just ask Miley Cyrus. People by their nature tend towards doing what they think is fun and what they think is liberating. When you combine a power structure with that natural individual proclivity towards fun and liberation and transgressions, all of a sudden you have destructive norms, seemingly by accident, through the combined selfishness of millions of individuals, some of whom are even members of the Collective Of Billionaires Who Get To Decide Everything. And therefore a guy like me (not a billionaire), who despite my many faults (churlishness, arrogance, privilege) does at least actually think about this stuff (obsequiousness, cowardice, sarcasm), still can't catch a break. Oh poor baby me. Of course I cop a "fuck it" attitude from time to time. We all do, all humans, but most hurtfully the most powerful ones.

To justify my complicity in sexism, I pretend I have enough to worry about just by being an alive human being. I daydream about how impossible and traumatic life is for everybody, and I feel a surge of connection and empathy whenever I do this. Even, say, Jay-Z. Jay-Z is fucking Jay-Z and his wife is BeyoncĂ©, and he’s still going to die. He wakes up every day knowing that. Talk about a raw deal. That’s traumatic. We’re all here and we’re all gonna die, and then one day billions of years from now our entire planet will be enveloped by our expanding sun, and nothing we do or say will ever matter, no matter what, and there are so many of us and only so much stuff we can have in our lives, and at the same time we all have to try to be nice to each other because we’re all we’ve got. It’s impossible.

I like to think that life is hard for everybody, even me, but that's probably wrong. My life is probably so easy that all women and 99% of the earth's men would swap lives with me in a heartbeat, even though I’m basically just a miserable turd. I at least have all the tools a person needs to not be a miserable turd. I should appreciate that more. I should help people more. I should be nicer. I should walk around in a state of bliss, heart open to the world and all of my fellow humans. We all should, but especially me because I was born at the top of the scrap heap with a white penis, and I therefore ruin things worse than anybody else when I switch to "me first" mode.

I'm not being sarcastic. I believe all of these things. The fact that I, me, a white guy, am out in the world talking shit and offhandedly bothering strangers by acting like a big smart guy on Twitter, sometimes or ever, is a huge huge shortcoming of mine. I hate that about myself. I should be doing better than this.

You know when somebody says you're wrong, and they're actually correct in saying that, it's worse than if they're just talking out of their ass? That's this. The good news is that feeling bad about myself, as the Judeo-Christian tradition goes, is the only way for me to know I’m a good person. So mission accomplished there, I guess. I'm a sexist and I have no defense for that. I don't get to "explain my side" or convince anybody that "I'm really not such a bad guy once you get to know me" or, God help us, write up a listicle of dating tips for male feminists. Because I know what’s right (them) and what’s wrong (me), I’m not even interested in doing any of that. I get to just sit in my hole, powerless in the knowledge of my own failures as a human, until I die. And it serves me right.

But I will say this: it's fucking BORING in this hole. Sometimes I'm going to talk just to hear myself speak. La la loo loo loo. If the hiring practices of “major publications” filling pop music critic staff positions is the manifestation of institutionalized sexism currently impacting you most directly, you’re doing pretty fucking great compared to the rest of the world (including both women and men). The fact that there even is such a thing in the world as a pop music critic staff position is its own form of gross, pervasive injustice. Grow up. It’s not like you’re feeding and clothing the huddled masses or inventing lightspeed rocket propulsion with your review of the latest Rihanna album, salient though it may have been. La la loo loo loo. That was fun. Don't mind me. I’m just here in my hole. A filthy, sexist piece of shit. With a shovel.


Monday, November 18, 2013

This is What New York City WILL Look Like in 2033

By: Ben Johnson

I like to pretend I'm too smart for the internet sometimes, but I'm not. Case in point: this little thing on Huffington Post about all the neato gigantic development projects currently happening in New York City. They called it "What New York City Could Look Like In 2033," and did not mention that due to global climate change New York City is going to be one gigantic river of shit by then. So I thought: I'm smarter than the internet. I should just Photoshop some rivers of shit onto everything they're talking about and call it a day.

And then, several hours later, my eyes are bleeding and all I have to show for it is further confirmation that I top out at medium funny.

Enjoy:

1. The New Penn Station

The new Penn Station is going to be about eye deep in a river of shit.

BEFORE:


AFTER:

 


2. The New World Trade Center

The new World Trade Center is going to be the tallest building in North America measured from the bottom of a river of shit to the top of its spire, sort of how that one Hawaiian island is the world's tallest mountain if you measure from the sea floor.

BEFORE:

 
AFTER:



3. Hudson Yards

This feels to me like a thing that has the tenacity to stick around even post-river of shit.

BEFORE:

 

AFTER: 



4. 5 Pointz

When the river of shit finally comes for graffiti's living temple, those uncreative ignoramuses will probably figure out a way to tag it.

BEFORE:


AFTER:



5. +POOL

I see no reason why it can't work.

BEFORE:


AFTER:



6. MoMA Tower

The people at the MoMA, always on the cutting edge, decide to scrap their $1 billion financing package for a huge tower, and instead upgrade their facade to river of shit as a postmodern commentary on the inherent powerlessness of modern architecture in the face of massive climatological upheaval.

BEFORE:


AFTER:



7. The Queensway

These guys are probably gonna need a new graphic designer if they're going to be able to sell the City on the idea of a walkway through a river of shit.

BEFORE:


AFTER:



8. South Bronx Initiative Plan

Seems like a good idea to me.

BEFORE:


AFTER:



9. The New Whitney Museum

Bad News: they're not gonna finish it. Good News: it won't matter.

BEFORE:


AFTER:



10. Cornell NYC Tech

I'm sure these eggheads will figure out a way.

BEFORE:


AFTER:



11. The New Westchester Avenue Station

Sure it doesn't look like much now, but it turns out that bridge is juust high enough to make it over a river of shit.

BEFORE:


AFTER:



12. Essex Crossing

I have faith in the industrious denizens of the Lower East Side. They'll make it work.

BEFORE:


AFTER:



13. The new Loew's Kings Theater

Probably not gonna have the time or the money for this one what with the river of shit.

BEFORE:


AFTER (not pictured - river of shit):



14. East River Blueway

You try and do this many Photoshops without a mistake. See how you like it.

BEFORE:


AFTER:



15. New York Wheel

It's Staten Island, so probably the traffic cones at least will survive.

BEFORE:


AFTER:



16. The Lowline

Obviously it's not in great taste to make fun of New York City's proximity to the raging, rising Atlantic Ocean in the wake of the loss of life and property caused by Hurricane Sandy, to say nothing of the more recent Typhoon Haiyan which just decimated large swaths of the Philippines. But if you're relatively young and relatively mobile, it might be time to take a good hard look at the Earth's geography before settling down with a family. That's all I'm saying. Don't be an idiot like a multibillion dollar real estate development conglomerate. The writing's on the wall. Save yourself while you still can. Also, sheesh, take a look at the Lowline. Maybe spruce that place up with a nice photo.

BEFORE:


AFTER:



17. Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg

Culturally speaking, you already live in a river of shit, and they are gonna build that Whole Foods whether you like it or not.

BEFORE:


AFTER: