On Ointments and Flies

When a great artist dies in this connected age, the sheer volume of reverent eulogizing, particularly on social media can be overwhelming. The case of David Bowie was no exception. Less often discussed during the mourning period are those facts that call into question the character of the artist, or make us feel uncomfortable thoughts about their legacy. David Bowie had sex with at least one 14 year-old girl. You can Google it!

“Hey man, why do you have to bring that up! Why can’t you let me/us appreciate and remember the art and all it means to me?! Why are you always shitting in the punch bowl/being such a troll?”

To answer the questions briefly in order:

  1. Because it is a true thing that happened
  2. You can/should appreciate the art and all it means to you!
  3. I think I have some kind of sickness.

To answer the questions verbosely in a rambling and incoherent way, I’ll be below the break.

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It’s the aftermath of another mass shooting, so America is currently engaged in our favorite kabuki: Liberals shouting about more gun control, Conservatives shouting about arming all citizens, Technocratic centrists (and other professional point-missers) talking about mental illness as the real issue. Meanwhile, nothing will change, the outrage machine will move on to another topic, and we’ll be back here again in about six months. And as we spin our wheels, the elephant in the room continues to deposit large piles of shit in the corner…

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Abortion rules

When I started this blog, I never intended it to be overtly political (Fuck the King of Thailand) but a recent social media donnybrook has prompted me to fire up the blog engines to make a long-form point and to clarify where I stand on a particularly contentious issue. Join me, won’t you (or don’t) across the fold for the kind of self-indulgent bullshit that is my stock in trade.

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Dear Readers,

Several years ago I went on an EPIC BICYCLE ADVENTURE!! Unfortunately, I never finished a Part III (despite my empty promises) and so readers were left in the lurch, forever deprived of the sort of happy ending they’ve come to expect from yours truly(DOUBLE ENTENDRES!!). Languishing for years in the DRAFTS folder of this mighty blog was the skeletal outline of that post. Much time and many adventures have passed since June of 2011, and I must admit that I will never be able to recapture the narrative flow of those initial posts. So instead, I offer you a thrilling LOOK BEHIND THE CURTAIN at how the blogging sausage is made!



Follow me below the fold for notes and placeholders that I can no longer make sense of, a shabby outline, 2 slightly different false starts and a picture of a pretty cool snapping turtle…

(The contents of the DRAFT folder appear exactly as they were abandoned in 2011):

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I was there

The image was simultaneously crystal clear, blurred and dreamy. The smells and sounds drifted through my brain. The whole visceral experience couldn’t have lasted for more than a microsecond as my head sunk into the pillow- and then it was gone. I’m pretty sure it was Bali. There was a square I remember walking across one night, following the music toward a bar that would serve cocktails either delicious or poisonous, depending on the spirit. (If you ever have the chance to try Arrack, DON”T FUCKING DO IT) I remember the warmth of the air. The smells. The absence of worry. That’s a privilege. One that’s not available to the locals. To say it was magical would be a bullshit cliche. It was just fun. Vacation. A privilege.


I think it was Bali. I try to remember. It’s been too long, I miss it. I’m here. I was there.


Philadelphia, PA– South Philadelphia resident Paul Hazen has no idea why there is so much mustard currently in his refrigerator. “I like mustard well enough, but it’s definitely not my favorite condiment,” Hazen explained. “I can’t even remember when the last time I bought some was, but sure enough, there are five different containers right here in the fridge.” Adding to the confusion is the fact that two of the five containers are Shop Rite brand Spicy Brown Mustard with expiration dates within 3 months of each other. “Did I have a barbecue I don’t remember, or some kind of picnic-themed party?” Hazen mused. “This is really fucking baffling! I should probably recycle the bottles or something.”

In addition to a nearly empty glass jar of Grey Poupon and dozens of take-out mustard packets, at least one expired squeeze-tube of Hebrew National Deli-Style Mustard is currently being obscured in the door shelf by an un-opened can of martini olives and two empty bottles of Sriracha Hot Sauce. Analysts predict that the mustards will remain unused for the next three years, at which time they will be unceremoniously discarded in a frenzy of moving-related cleaning.

His name was Bob*. Tall and skinny, he approached our table with a mischievous smile. He immediately started to dish out shit, like only a British ex-pat would feel obliged to do. He was pretty drunk. He bought us a round. I learned he grew up in Hong Kong, his parents met in Singapore. As a young man, he moved to London then the United States to go to college. A close friend was killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. He felt like he had to do something. Burdened by a load of student debt, and imbued with a deep sense of purpose, he enlisted in the US Army. He ended up in a medic unit in Iraq, and he did and saw things that we couldn’t possibly understand. His face pauses. He’s had two more drinks since his story began. A beer, and a double gin and tonic. Tanqueray. The words come slower now. Stilted. He looks down. He pauses. He asks if I’d ever killed a person. I said no. He asked if I could ever kill a person. I said I doubted it. He did. More than once. More than ten times. We never hear the number. Over a year of combat near Tikrit. He imagines the lives that he ended. The people that no longer exist. How they had girlfriends, families, mothers. The thoughts don’t stop. The gin helps a bit, but not for long. When he gets home, he talks. Probably cries. He never says this explicitly, but I sense it in his eyes. His story meanders. Circling around, repeating, breathing. He tries to tell his girlfriend. She’s French. He loves her more than anything. He just wants her to know. To understand what he saw. What he did. He wants her to tell him she loves him. That he’s a good person. I don’t know if he believes it himself, but I can tell that he is.  His girlfriend doesn’t know how to deal with him. He doesn’t know how to deal with himself. He never blames her when she leaves. He probably would do the same. He just needs to know he’s a good person, in spite of what happened. In spite of the lives that he ended. I nod. I try to reassure. He’s a strong man. Stronger than I could be. His scars are deep. He just wants to be fine again. He hopes to forget. It’s only me now. Me and Bob. “Do me a favor, stay and have another round on me.” I should have left two hours ago. “Sure thing,” I say. We stand at the bar. Bob introduces himself to a couple who’s visiting from out of town. “Where are you from,” they ask. “Well I just got back…” he stops himself. “Nevermind. So you’re visiting New York? You’ve NEVER been?” he asks incredulously. His attention starts to drift. He’s out of cigarettes. When I turn away from the couple, Bob is gone. I walk over to his Marine friend and ask if he knows where Bob went. “He ran out to get a pack of smokes.”

“Oh… When he gets back, tell him thanks, and take care of himself.”



*name has been changed.