Enablers a.k.a Not Great Men

Suggested listening: “Not Great Men” by Gang Of Four

 

Last week, I wrote about the abuse I suffered as a child. I am thankful that so many people responded with love and compassion. This is the environment we need to foster in order to make it easier for victims and survivors of abuse to tell their story publicly.

Too long, we’ve enabled the attackers, the abusers and rapists by rationalizing either their behavior or the reasons why a victim would publicly name their attacker. Look at the many women who have accused Bill Cosby of drugging and raping them. The closest Cosby has come to facing justice has been in the Andrea Constand trial. Constand alleged that Cosby drugged, molested her and removed her clothes at his mansion in the Philadelphia suburbs in early 2004.

That trial ended in a mistrial in June. This June. June of 2017. Thirteen years later. Thirteen years.

Allegations against Cosby go back nearly fifty years and only in the last few years has he only begun to feel even a whisper of consequence for his alleged actions. How did he manage to get away with it for so long? It helped that he was enabled. By his status as a Hollywood star, a public figure, and in part by prosecutors who were reluctant to go near him (a prosecutor in 2005 declared there was insufficient evidence to charge Cosby for the Constand incident), by confidentiality agreements which protect abusers from public disclosure of their actions (think Harvey Weinstein).

It doesn’t help that the public gets involved in enabling such actions. Rationalizing why someone would call out an abuser. . . “seeking a payday or publicity”. As if a rape victim would want to parlay that into a spot on Dancing With The Stars. But it’s not just rationalizing the victims’ reasons. Ask a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Their star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of two sexual assaults and fans overlook that (unless of course he fails to perform on the field).

Is this an extension of the Great Man Theory? Is this the price society is willing to pay for greatness? Are we willing to overlook two unprosecuted rape cases because a guy can play football well? Are we willing to overlook a broken family and abused children because Woody Allen made some of the best comedy films in cinematic history? Do we overlook dozens of women who cry out for justice because Bill Cosby gave America the warm-and-fuzzies as Dr. Huxtable while shilling for Jello Pudding Pops?

Or are we jerking ourselves off? Perhaps I’ve built a strawman here but none of those things are worth the human cost of pain and tears. Chris Brown is an unrepentant domestic abuser and his fan base is as rabid as its’ ever been. But maybe Team Breezy has a point. Have you ever heard “Kiss Kiss”, that collab with T-Pain? Almost makes up for the bruises on Rihanna’s face.

Wait a minute, these are not great men. These are profitable men, every single one of them. Not just for themselves but for other people. For Hollywood, the music business, professional sports. No wonder they’re enabled so much. Because the institutions of sport and entertainment don’t want their money fucked with. Of course.

I think I’ve hit it on the head. History is not made by great men. It’s made by men who wanted to make a lot of money. In order to do that, you may have to break a few lives. And that transcends all cultures.

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We Are A Target Market

The music business has pioneered a self-serving type of documentary in which the star is not only the subject but the producer of the film. I thought about this last night after watching Radiohead’s “Meeting People Is Easy” from 1998. At the same time, Mary was at home watching “Gaga: Five Foot Two” which is available on Netflix.

There are slight parallels between the two documentaries, shot two decades apart with musically disparate artists. Both have full cooperation of the artists involved, with behind-the-scenes unfiltered access to them as they get on with recording, promotion, touring and the unglamorous business of making the work that the public enjoys, whether that means rehearsing for concerts or in Gaga’s special case shooting a part for “American Horror Story” or rehearsing the Super Bowl halftime show.

Gaga struggles with fibromyagia, while Thom Yorke of Radiohead struggles with the band’s success in the wake of what has become their biggest album “OK Computer” and how that may change him and the band. Yorke is new to massive fame and on the verge of a nervous breakdown, whereas Gaga has been a star for long enough to have weathered the sudden rise by the time “Five Foot Two” takes place, when she records “Joanne”, her fifth major album.

Any discussion of Lady Gaga would be lacking without mentioning Madonna, who had her own self-produced documentary in 1990’s “Madonna: Truth Or Dare” which goes behind the scenes of the Blond Ambition tour. At the beginning of the film, she is dating Warren Beatty who eventually gets fed up with the cameras behind the scenes. By the end of the film, Beatty is gone and Madonna plots to seduce Antonio Banderas at a party somewhere in Europe. Meanwhile, her dancers pick on each other and her makeup artist talks about being drugged and sodomized.

What “Truth Or Dare” reveals is as as revealing as what it doesn’t reveal. Beatty freaks out at the cameras, the poor makeup artist’s story, Madonna’s drug addict brother showing up too late to see his younger siblings. . . meanwhile, the worst intrusions on the star are the visits by a throat doctor. Sure, her father is embarrassed by some of the racier aspects of the Blond Ambition concert and the Toronto police threaten to arrest her if she goes through with a production number where she simulates masturbation but these just show how bold and liberated and brave she is when she goes through with it anyway.

“Truth Or Dare” and “Five Foot Two” are careful in what they allow the audience to see of the stars at the center. Madonna and Gaga are inevitably linked by circumstances beyond either control. Two determined, headstrong Italian-American women, one coming twenty-five years after the other. One struggling to maintain relevance as she nears her sixties, the other being accused of ripping straight from the playbook of her predecessor.

Gaga brings up Madonna in her documentary, making it clear that real-life tension exists beyond headlines and thinkpieces. One could understand Madonna’s bitterness. Gaga’s copycat cribbing is evident to anyone who views both movies. Madonna’s throat problems threaten to derail the tour. Gaga’s fibromyalgia forces her to cancel shows (so why go through so much choreography, then?). Both try to commiserate with family members, friends and underlings/employees but they can’t have normal relationships because they are The Biggest Pop Star In The World (in 1990/2017). One would imagine a young pre-Gaga wore out a VHS copy of “Truth Or Dare” or two.

Neither documentary really tell you anything unflattering about them, and for the most part neither does “Meeting People Is Easy” which was shot in 1997/8 during the post-grunge era where the media were searching for the next thing and praised Radiohead as prophets for a new generation. Rock saviors, Yorke a new Dylan, diagnosing the pre-millenium human condition. Yet you get less from the band then you do from Gaga or Madonna. No familial interactions, hell. . . the band members don’t even talk to each other until seventy-five minutes in. That’s a conscious artistic choice. It’s all interviews, interviews, soundchecks, interviews, photo shoots, and Thom Yorke falling to pieces as his relationship to the world changes. That this is allowed to be seen is also a conscious decision as it is not considered unflattering (that would belong to the footage of Yorke struggling to shoot the video for “No Surprises” where he is submerged underwater in slow-motion).

Inevitably, the central idea is that the artists are to be pitied as their lives and work are not as easy as one would think. Which may be true but it struggles to ring true as long as the artists themselves are the producers and thus the gatekeepers on what the public gets to see of them.

Big Brother + Crack = Social Media

I just deleted my Twitter account. Oh my God, what have I done? Thank fucking God I did that. Oh my God, can I keep away from it for the next thirty days? Wouldn’t that be wonderful if I left it alone for thirty days and then all my Twitter info got deleted and I could never get it back? That would be so beautiful.

In some ways this is a continuation of my previous blog post. Since I last posted, actress Rose McGowan was suspended by Twitter for a half-day. What did she do? She called Ben Affleck and Matt Damon assholes, lying about not knowing about producer Harvey Weinstein’s many sexual harassments and assaults. It’s easy to condemn Harvey now, of course. And that ended with Rose in Twitter jail for twelve hours.

Keep in mind that the man who is supposedly our Commander-in-Chief frequently threatens nuclear war on the same platform and has yet to be suspended. What the hell?

(Side note: Trump always says he never uses e-mail. How the hell does he use Twitter? You need an e-mail address to open an account. What e-mail address is he using?)

So a day-long boycott has been proposed for the 13th, but it doesn’t feel like enough. So I’ve decided to delete my account. Even if I can only do it for a day or two, it will be some kind of gesture. Social media is cross between Big Brother and crack cocaine. Instagram is like methadone for me compared to Twitter and Facebook.

The sheer amount of Russian targeting of Twit/Book is another good reason to get the hell away. Nazis commit harassment faster than you can report them on Twitter. Women are frequently threatened with rape, moreso if they happen to be opinionated. If you’re a woman of color, whoo boy. They will come out to yell at you in droves, throwing n-bombs like molotov cocktails in the street.

Twitter is definitely a Sarlacc pit of pure goddamn awfulness and it appears obvious that the people in charge of the platform have taken the side of the oppressor as long as it remains profitable for them to do so. So I’m cutting my account off. As long as I can. The last time I quit Twitter, I stayed off for five days.

I know I can make it through to the 14th and participate in the boycott. Twitter counts all its accounts, active or not. Did you make an account seven years ago, tweet three or four times and then never log on again? They count that. Active or inactive, it’s good for their bottom line. Why would they care if a bunch of racists threatening rape and violence are in their midst?

It’s not a battlefield, you know?

This Is Everywhere (My Story)

Suggested listening: “How Dare You/Lazy Ways” by 10cc

Today broke me.

How can we ever recapture the feeling of hazy ways?

Today I read Ronan Farrow’s article in The New Yorker about Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual assault of young actresses and company employees. Then I read Terry Crews’ tweet-storm about a different executive grabbing his crotch at a Hollywood party over a year ago and how it triggered him again. And he didn’t say anything until now.

It just broke me.

I have been in a low mood lately. Comedian Ralphie May died a few days ago, age 45. A fellow morbidly obese feller. He died too young and it shook me up. This stuff today worked on me.

By coincidence, not only am I morbidly obese I am also a survivor of sexual abuse. This is not something I’ve talked about publicly until today. Because of shame and embarrassment.

I feel like I’m doing the best I can right now. Like I’m hanging onto the ledge with white knuckles and people don’t understand that. They want to know why I’m not doing more for myself. Motherfucker, I’m trying to survive here.

I’ve lived in shame for most of my life because of some actions that happened in my childhood, actions that weren’t my fault at all.

I have some understanding of what it felt like to be an aspiring actress taking a meeting with Harvey Weinstein. To be pressured and pressured by a powerful, influential man into something you don’t want to do until you just let it happen to be done with it so you can get away from it. In my case, it was a local man, an elder, a pillar of the community who was a successful businessman. He gave to charity. He was active in his church. He was a serial abuser. When he was finally indicted, it was for dozens of charges going back over two decades.

He got away with it for a long time until suddenly he didn’t. He went to prison, I don’t remember how long. But there is the difference between him and Harvey Weinstein, who likely will not face any criminal charges for at least three alleged rapes and numerous sexual assaults involving fondling and indecent exposure.

For my part, I didn’t say anything about this to anyone for another four years or so, when he finally got charged. By then I was in high school when a state trooper made numerous stops to interview me. I guess he got a tip. During the trial, the prosecution wanted to bring me in as witness but I begged my family to not make me do it. I didn’t want to see him, even if he couldn’t hurt me anymore. I definitely did not want to be identified as a victim. I didn’t want word getting out that I was a victim of this guy. I never wanted that because I knew how cruel kids were.

I went to school with some of the dumbest, meanest kids in the known universe. They would pick on somebody over anything. They would make fun of somebody who’s dad died because his dad died. A boy who got molested by a grown man is chum for sharks like that.

I didn’t see my attacker every day but I saw those shitheads five days a week and had they known my secret, I might not be talking to you right now. I might have killed myself. These were terrible people. When I say not to kill yourself just because the world sucks, I mean it because I’ve lived it.

I’ve lived most of my life in shame and embarrassment. It is these things that embolden the attacker, the molester, the rapist. They count on our shame and our embarrassment to make us complicit in their abuse, their crimes. That is why we have to keep hearing that it wasn’t our fault. That is why we have to keep telling ourselves that it isn’t our fault.

But it still feels like our fault. And then you get social media jerks attacking the victims. “Why didn’t you say something earlier duh-duh-duh?” Or straight up not believing them for whatever reasons they can find that will allow them to live with their decisions. It’s far easier to be a dickhead to strangers now.

Meanwhile, my life has been ruined and I’ve been in denial the whole time. My approach to relationships, food, sex and who knows what else has been altered, rippled and distorted permanently. Let’s just push all this baggage to the back of the mind. And then this Weinstein stuff this week. And it reminds of the Catholic sex abuse scandal(s). And Fox News paying off five victims of Bill O’Reilly who were sexually harassed. And the story of Roger Ailes, late former Fox News exec. who coerced women into performing for him. And the hideous story of the late Jimmy Savile, BBC radio and TV presenter who abused and raped everyone from teenagers to children to coma patients. I could go on and on.

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“When you’re a star, you can do anything.”

I go deep and dig out the skeletons in my closet. They weren’t mine, somebody else put them there with no permission to do so. I wouldn’t face my attacker in court. The district attorney took pity on me and withdrew the subpoena. I don’t want to be a victim or a survivor. If anyone is going to label me, it should be me. Don’t I have that right? Doesn’t everybody?

Nobody knows this is everywhere. From Main St. to Wall St.,  from Hollywood, Cal. to Hollywood, Fla., in business, in government, churches, schools, and so on. So many of our institutions hold within them the dark heart of the American dream. Generations of hurt.

How can we get back to lazy ways? Everybody knows this is everywhere.

You’ll never get up if you don’t get up.

I release myself from the shame and embarrassment.

He can’t hurt me anymore.

Rise Of The Picklericks

Suggested listening: “Prophecy Theme” Dune OST

The year is 2159. Cat pictures are the only acceptable currency. SJWs rule society with an iron fist. They control the supply of Szechuan Sauce, the most prized commodity in the entire universe.

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The great Caucasian genocide our forefathers predicted nearly 150 years ago never took place. White people live comfortably with their black, Latino, Asian, Indian, Jewish brethren and Martian guards.

The Martians came about two generations ago. They serve as guards for the SJWs, a cabal of Social Justice Warriors who seek to enforce equality and tolerance on all who dare live on this PRISON PLANET. White people have not been phased out, but men and those who aspire to be such have been treated like SECOND CLASS CITIZENS.

Women? They are to be celebrated, cherished, appreciated. And men? Oof. Men are. . . emasculated, I’m sad to say. It’s a woman’s world now. Not like it used to be when things were equal. Women are in power and men made subservient. Our joys have been taken from us, one by one. We don’t even have pro football anymore. We’re not even allowed to watch men’s soccer because it may provoke “feelings of nationalism”, whatever those are.

All the beer is light beer. Super light beer, bottled in and imported from Utah. The only men who have full right of expression are the ones who wear women’s clothes and lip-sync to Cher. They are called the “Yaaaass Queens”.

Does any of this really matter to us? Nah. Truth be told, we just want our sauce. The delicious life-giving Szechuan Sauce that we’ve heard so much about. God’s own personal ear infection dripping into a plastic cup that we can dip food in.

One time, Lady President Beyonce III promised a free giveaway of limited-edition Szech. The tired, hungry masses gathered outside the Chapo TrapHouse in Washington, DC where she piloted a single drone overhead before dropping one, count ’em ONE whole cup of Szech before piloting the drone back in and retreating inside in laughter. It was a slap to our collective faces.

Pickle_Rick_Episode

Our inspirational namesake

That’s why the Picklericks have decided to fight back. What are the Picklericks? Oh my god, have you ever seen “Rick And Morty”?

You haven’t? Hold on.

(lenghty dissertion about animated TV show cut for length)

. . . so anyway, we named ourselves the Picklericks because we worship Szechuan Sauce, the McRib and the Shamrock Shake aka THE HOLY TRINITY. Little did the show creators know way back then how important those items would be now. We have had it with limited editions so limited that no one can actually get to them. You can only get the Shamrock Shake in March, and only at participating locations! And the McRib? You may have to wait years between McRibs, the way they act. It’s beyond frustrating. It’s practically retarded and shit.

Anyhoo, we’re going to lead the revolt against the SJWs who have kept maleness down so long. We are all united to take down the matriarchy. We will rip the social hierarchy to bits. We will stand on a stage in our street clothes playing air guitar to “Bawitdaba” without anyone charging us with thought-crime. We will defeat our Martian guards or failing that, we will make them do our bidding because we have a Walkman cassette player and a copy of Van Halen’s “1984”.

And most importantly, we will get THAT GODDAMNED SZECHUAN SAUCE.

None of the Picklericks can arts-and-crafts a battle crest. Too faggy. But we do have a Latin motto should anyone do it for us: “IRRUMABO, VIR IRRUMABO”.

We can’t pay upfront, but we’ll cut you in on the sauce.

Treacle Time

Suggested listening: “My Mistakes Were Made For You”

It is time to make peace with myself on this issue.

I wanted her to love me. I wanted to be thin. I wanted to be thin so she would love me. I didn’t think it through. I didn’t think of all the other benefits of being healthier. I just wanted her. Anything I could do for her.

I don’t know if any of this translates to “I love(d) her”. Maybe it did or didn’t. It’s too complicated to sort out. How do you sort out such a complicated history in a few hundred words?

I should be getting ready for bariatric weight-loss surgery and I don’t want to do it now because I wanted to do it for her. Not for me. Not for my benefit. Just so she might see a thinner me and love me.

If I go through with it now, I’ll be dead within two years. Because she won’t fall in love with me. Because she can’t. That is not her fault. I was doing this to impress her. Which is not a good reason.

So I’m in pain. I’m mourning and I’m upset and I did things for the wrong reasons and now I’m standing on the precipice of a major life decision realizing that I did it all for naught. I have that surgery, I lose weight and she won’t fall in love with me. It won’t happen. I’ll get sad and depressed and then I’ll backslide because I always backslide and then oh my god I’ll put on the weight again and there will be no going back and I’d rather die.

I need to do a lot of work on myself. I need a lot more psychotherapy. I am a work in progress but I am coming along and I act in good faith. Eventually all we have is ourselves, the reality of ourselves. Eventually you run out of distractions and have to deal with that person in the mirror staring back at you. Wherever you go, there you are. Like it or not.

Don’t Make Me Do This

Suggested listening: “The Long Road” – Pearl Jam

I don’t know how else to start because this is a post about me and I’d rather not write those sort of posts. Don’t get me wrong, I do plenty of reflection. Just not where anyone can read it. Might as well jump into it.

Yesterday was a gut punch.

I went to get weighed. Once a month I make a trip to get weighed as a part of my weight loss program. I’ve gained ten pounds since my last visit.

How could that be? Every month since I started the program I have either lost or maintained my weight.

It’s a combination of three things. I’m on three different anti-depressants, two of which have weight gain as a side effect. I’m also retaining water. And I need to be more active. If I just walked more, it would mean so much. It would at least negate the water retention a little bit.

My doctor has been ramping up the doses on this new medication month by month. I’m feeling better but I still have a ways to go.

The purpose of entering the weight loss program was to prep me for bariatric surgery. Specifically, gastric sleeve surgery. I’ve completed all the weight checks and the tests and exams over the last seven months, yet I feel as unready as the first day I started.

One reason why I feel unready is that I’m trying to undo forty years of diet choices. I’m trying to make better decisions in what I eat. That takes more than six months, especially with the garbage I have put in my mouth.

This is a longer journey than the program has mapped out. It would be even if I had the surgery, which in itself is no easy answer or quick fix. But if I were to have the surgery now, I’m afraid I would fail. I would find a new bottom to crash through to. I can’t afford to fail, not this time. There’s no going back after having more than 80% of your stomach removed.

There were other letdowns yesterday but those are more than I’m willing to share right now. It’s not the end of the world. Once upon a time, I might have felt that way. Right now, it feels like a setback. Or maybe it’s just an honest assessment and I’m the only person who sees how complicated everything is. I certainly don’t think the staff at the weight loss facility get it. They say that they think I’m ready and this will be the best decision I’ll ever make.

There’s a part of me that is so paranoid that I can’t help but think they’re just selling something to me. Maybe they care but they’ll get paid whether I succeed or not.

If you’re going to undergo a life-altering procedure, try not to be paranoid or convinced that you are destined for failure.

The Tree Of Liberty Is Indifferent To Your Cries

They will do nothing. Again. I know it. I feel it in my bones. Nothing will be done to make it better. Nothing will be done to prevent it from happening.

When I say that nothing will be done I mean that nothing will be done to address the root cause of the problem. Some hand-wringing. Thoughts and f’n prayers.

If you are outraged and heartbroken, you have a good and healthy instinct and emotional barometer. You are not alone. There are more of you than those that oppose.

Incidents like this are acceptable to. . . somebody. This is apparently the cost of doing business in the United States. This is all part of the entertainment. A school of children under attack and nobody does anything to keep it from happening again. A nightclub of happy revelers, same thing. A music festival where people are enjoying themselves, same thing. A church where people are having Bible study, you get it.

It just doesn’t matter enough to those who could change it. It would take common sense more than any amount of courage or bravery to make those decisions.

All blood tastes the same to the Tree of Liberty, apparently.

 

Muy Yum! The Vast Expanse

In the likelihood that the University of Louisville men’s basketball team receives the “death penalty” from the NCAA for repeated major violations, that means that the vaunted KFC Yum! Center (est. 2010) will be have a lot of open dates after the penalty comes down.

The death penalty for a program means no games. Nothing. No preseason, no season, no postseason. No practices. No recruiting. Not a thing. Death. Death. Death. Pure death to a program. It is so severe that the NCAA has only used it five times in its’ history. Make no mistake, Louisville would deserve it after having been ensnared in a FBI investigation, having paid a madam to bring underage girls to service players on the men’s team, and the various peccadilloes of head coach Rick Pitino, who has plead ignorance to everything even as he was put on unpaid leave Wednesday afternoon.

But let’s not concentrate on the downfall of the Cardinals’ men’s program. Let’s look at the open schedule at the Yum! Center. Sure, there will still be the UL Women’s basketball and volleyball programs but they don’t have the juice that big-time men’s basketball has.

Some people seem to think that this will motivate the city of Louisville to recruit a NBA team to move to their town in order to fill the gap left by the Cards. It may happen, but here are some other events that I think are just as if not more likely to fill in the empty dates at the Yum! Center in the near future (probably 2018-beyond).

  • Flat-track roller derby (the Derby City Roller Girls)
  • Life-sized holograms of classic Cards basketball games.
  • Toughman competitions
  • Banked-track roller derby
  • Animal fighting (chickens, dogs, et al.)
  • Indoor football
  • Trump rallies
  • Clogging marathons
  • Figure-eight-track weaponized androgynous roller derby (the most dangerous variant of roller derby, with zip guns, bisexuality and ATVs)
  • Eating contests
  • Karaoke for 20,000
  • Organized group cursings of Kentucky Wildcats and their fans
  • Joel Osteen buying the place and turning it into a church
  • World’s shittiest beer garden

 

Go To Hell

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Two years ago, I baked a mouse by accident after putting a pizza in the over. Symbolism.

Some dates stick with you. This is one of them. September two-seven. Nine-two-seven-one-four.

It has been three years since my grandfather passed away just after midnight on the 27th. I will never forget that date as long as I live.

All the stuff that has transpired in my life since his passing has been not unlike the myth of the Phoenix. That sounds pretentious but you had to be there. You had to see everything in my life fall into disrepair. You had to see all hell break loose. Trust me, I was there.

I stand here, three years on, a better and stronger man. I am like the phoenix that rises from its’ own ashes. A rebirth after plunging into self-immolation. And as I stand here, I recognize that it is as slow a rise up as it was a descent.

This is self-love. This is self-celebration. It is well-deserved.

And yet this is not a permanent state. Hard times will return. Hell, hard times are happening now, if you consider the state of the country and the world. But inside I am fortified. Because I’ve cried through the fire that engulfed me. I feel like a piece of steel, brought to my biggest melting point yet. Hard times will return and heartbreak will occur, but I will persevere.

You will persevere as well. That is my promise to you. Pain and suffering is a giant part of our existence, and yet we persevere. However we get through it, whether we cling to family, or friends, or God, how one may imagine God to be, or any combination thereof. Or whatever gets you through that doesn’t make things worse. Some coping mechanisms can be harmful, you know.

The old saying is “when you’re going through hell, keep going.” I echo that sentiment because otherwise you’re stuck in hell. Besides, you may fly out one day. Not because you’re an angel but because you’re a phoenix.

I miss my grandfather but I think if he could see me now, he would be proud of me. That makes it a little bit easier. I can almost hear him say it. “Proud of you.”

Almost.