Monday, July 31, 2017

her milkshake

AP News Flash
Los Angeles, January 3, 2018
-The national furor continues in day five of the kelis trial. The R&B diva has been caught up in the wave of "outsized celebrity ego" litigation sweeping the country. After numerous civil lawsuit triumphs against more prominent performers, politicians, and professional athletes, public advocacy groups have turned their attention to kelis, whose 2003 hit "Milkshake" catapulted her into the national consciousness. As usual, the charges initially focused on "self-glorification detrimental to minors and the public good", but as in earlier trials those allegations have been nigh-impossible to prove, so prosecutors have again turned to the "false advertising" tactic so damning in the suits against snoop dogg, eminem, and the sinatra estate. The question of whether kelis' milkshake brings "all the boys" to the yard has been the center of dispute thus far. There have been many witnesses eager to testify that they never once even considered going to the yard, including supreme court justice clarence thomas, all but one of the wayans brothers, and matt damon...but the prosecution has been stymied when asked to provide a single witness who could demonstrate "opportunity but clear refusal" to go. Yesterday's shift in tactic focused on questioning the veracity of kelis' claim that she would "teach you, but [she'd] have to charge". Prosecution alleges that her "need to charge" was a blatant, egregious deception. They've subpoenaed copies of the defendant's tax returns from 2000-2003, and a swift ruling against the singer is expected.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


I have no idea whether this housing ad is real, but i gave it my best pitch (see below). No word back yet...

$1 NO-vices naturist commune $any! (NO str8 guys)
naturist = 100% nudist = ALL ALWAYS NUDE, the obvious [NO] 'hit-on' reason for NO str8 guys. 
NO 'vices' means: no smoke/drug/drunk/NOISE/mess/disharmony/crime. (not 'morality'!)
Safe, comfortable peace&quiet. Communal: NO privacy (1 shared space)! ALL ages/genders.
Tech-positive. NON-sex env. but "open-minded" (not 'up-tight' sexually): a delicate balance!
LGBT-friendly. NON-judgemental, like . Money NOT a main issue (alt. contribs cool).
VERY/UNlimited 'touch-positive'! Share ALL, openly. Can you 'grok' this? Explain in your reply.
Thanks & best wishes.

If i told you twain, thoreau, lenny bruce, and elizabeth cady stanton had a love child, wouldn't you want it/him/her to write about you?
Your ad blew my mind a bit. I'll get my one contentious point out of the way - i'm not sure about your premise that straight men become mindless predators in the presence of naked women. In some ways, the opposite is probably true. Our cultural neuroses and sexual obsessions are a result of living in a repressed, touch-deprived society. If everybody were naked all the time, we would stop caring about nudity (and beyond that, if everybody had healthy levels of human touch and regular sex, we'd be far less insane...but i suspect i don't have to sell you on that one).
Writing about your community by becoming part of it, would probably be one of the highlights of my literary career. For years, i've intended to do an investigative piece on a nudist colony, and it sounds like yours may be the most spiritually advanced around.
As a writer, i've never made (or sought) a penny. Like picasso said, the meaning of life is to find your gift, and the purpose of life is to give it away.
If we were to look up your "no vice" ethos in a dictionary, there would be a picture of my face. No joke.
Ditto for "open-minded". Anything that makes consenting equals happy (and doesn't hurt anyone else), makes me happy.
Ditto for "non-judgmental". I had to look up HAI (well, i did just set foot in CA for the first time). Brilliant.
Double ding-dong ditto for "touch positive". The greatest book that's never been written is the one that deconstructs how important touch is to human health, and how far lost we are in this personal-space nightmare we call home.
I even grok grok. A fantastic book.
Am i interested in living with you, both as a writer and a human being? Yup.
If you want to crucify me because i'm a straight male, you're too late. I crucified myself years ago.
If you've read this far, i'd be happy to send you the investigative journalist piece i wrote about the sex trade in NYC. I tried to experience as much of it as i could firsthand, without actually having sex with a (probably-exploited) stranger.

yours humbly,

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Updated Edition
-by chris lehmann
If you'd like to understand on an intellectual basis just how broken this country is, how cripplingly unbalanced we are in terms of "fair play", and how embroiled we are in undeclared class war, this is the place to start. Lehmann makes no emotional appeals, no revolutionary clarion calls. He simply deconstructs the current brand of american capitalism, and exposes a class war coming not from the underprivileged, but from the rich who have taken an already criminally-stacked deck and pocketed three of the five cards the non-rich thought they had.
Lehmann has an 800-verbal SAT mind, and if you're not on at least a 600-level yourself, the richness of his prose will boggle and batter you into submission. In deference to that, i think it only fair to offer you some of his unfiltered words, rather than the reflections of a relative plodder like myself. Here's a lift from his chapter on reality TV:
"By staging competitions for scarce resources, as in the breakout network franchise SURVIVOR, we're testing the core postulates about human behavior in the state of nature. By pitting aspiring singers against each other in AMERICAN IDOL - and putting them to a public vote - we're plumbing the wellsprings of the longing for success and recognition, while also (for good measure) shoring up the hoary talent-will-out shibboleths of the national gospel of success. By marching contestants through the Trump boardroom in THE APPRENTICE, we're sizing up the proper quotients of ruthlessness, ego inflation, and sycophancy that form the forever-unstable compound of corporate achievement.
But it's never the case that reality TV is "real" in any meaningful sense. This isn't just because the producers insist that at least one camera crew is on the scene to record the raw drama of interpersonal confrontation, replete with off-camera lighting and audio set-ups. No, more fundamentally, the sagas of the upward-striving reality format are unreal because they envision perhaps our culture's purest form of class contempt. Lavishly appointed depictions of overclass leisure, such as those in Bravo TV's REAL HOUSEWIVES franchise...provide a study in disaccumulative wealth and entitlement every bit as stark and provoking as the taxpayer-funded executive bonuses at AIG and Goldman Sachs. The surpassingly odd thing about these shows, though, is that they do profess to be natural reflections of our unquestioned social hierarchies; their pecuniary displays are evaluated on the spectrum of taste, not on any moral calculus."
He also exposes the failings and hypocrisies in the U.S. constitution, the New York Times, meritocracy, populism, the Democratic party, the prosperity gospel, ayn rand, lobbyists, libertarians, and the social media. Not all of the twenty-nine essays are equally salient, but they're all pretty stunningly clear-thinking.
I'll end by making the only realistic conclusion that a reading of this book can offer. The only two cards the non-rich have left? Suffer and die, or fight back.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

gay trump star wars banana beatles

Last night was my first in a new home, in a new state, farther from any support system i've ever lived. The past week was very stressful, with a relative attacking my character for reasons she either didn't understand or wouldn't talk about, and several home possibilities going phlooey, leaving me needing to take almost any home that became available so as to avoid being a houseguest who stayed too long. And this...was my dream last night.
I dreamt that my sweet youngest brother jeff (who in real life has fallen for drug addiction and christianity, and is quite straight) became so enamored of donald trump that he gave him a blow job and followed him around like a puppy. Trump was visiting a fictional home where my brothers and i live. He was a little less abrasive in person, but just as narcissistic and pathologically deceptive. At one point i overheard he and jeff talking, and donald said, in a playful babyish voice as he lifted his shirt, "Do you know the biggest surprise about donald? My soffffffffft skin." I kept my dismay internalized, as jeff was clearly smitten. My other brother dave was somewhere about, and more houseguests as well. It was my job to clean the bathroom, and i noticed the toilet was too dirty to ignore. I started cleaning the crap, and ended up standing in the toilet. I overheard donald on the phone advising the Beatles (apparently it was 1966) to put out an album about bananas and coconuts before the Rolling Stones released an album making fun of the Beatles' love for bananas and coconuts. Meanwhile, jeff and donald were watching a remake of Star Wars, with the same characters but a different storyline.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

dear pam

Ohhh pamela mammala,
Fabulous vocabulary? It didn't feel so great when i looked at that "pseudo-lover" phrase for many minutes, trying and failing to get the wording right. I was going for playful and disarming. "Alternate universe pseudo-lover"? Still not right.
I'm actually not good at confrontation, either. I used to be, but when i set about trying to take down my walls a few years back, so i could feel emotions (good or bad) more directly, i succeeded too well. Negativity goes through me now like stones through wet tissue. It can leave me feeling sickened.
What a beautiful photo of your son.
I love that you sent a photo of yourself when you did. Not that i needed to see one to know how to respond, but there was an imbalance because you'd "seen" me. I was impressed with how quickly you righted that, consciously or not. In previous on-line correspondences, i've found that women (people?) can be content to ignore that imbalance entirely, if it's in their favor.
I came to CA without a home because i hadn't found one yet, but my brother had bought me a roger waters Sacramento concert ticket. I came, i'm here, i'm glad. I've got about $8000, and i may need to make that last for a year, as it may take me that long to make any money from my writing. I'm still not entirely comfortable with even trying to do so. The intersection of art and commerce is a perilous one...deadlines, editors and publications trying to "water you down", and then if you DO achieve success, how do you resist the temptation to "give them what they want"? I've been writing for ten years, and have been taking my baby steps in public speaking the past four (the amazing thing about that is not that i've been successful, but that i've been able to please a cranky, conservative crowd just as much as the young and idealistic). Up til' now, i posted all my stuff on a free website, which is how all art should come. It's a little troubling that i've started holding back my really good (publishable?) pieces. But i've made my peace with that. I don't mind living as a relative pauper, i actually prefer it in a world of horrible poverty...but this world will chew anyone up in a heartbeat. Money's security is an illusion, but a powerful one. Also, just as most men don't "see" ugly women, most women don't "see" a poor man. I was in the southern bible belt the past four years, and not coincidentally, that's how long it's been since i've had any real physical intimacy (except for just now, when i was love-assaulted by a cat...i've never been around a cat so aggressively intimate that i feel almost CPRd with fish breath).
I wrote an article recently about being attractive/unattractive...yes, there can be character benefits. But in this looks-obsessed world, it's also an invitation to schizophrenia. Sometimes i'd rather just be "ugly" or "attractive" all the time. You?
The tragedy of the Bay, eh? I did kind of wonder whether i was coming to SF twenty years too late. But it's hard to imagine that Santa Cruz or Austin have the same literary infrastructure. As reticent as i am about art&commerce, i'm ready for as large a stage as my words will take me.
And to think, you still have no idea whether i have talent!
You aspire to way-out levels of realness? Amazing. So rare. And even maybe a little self-destructive, in this world. I'll back you up in any way, and try to offer you just the same. As in, i loved your first photo (and i'm sorry it got swallowed by our thread), but the second one threw me because of the makeup! Yet it almost seemed like you anticipated that response! Oh lawsy, i've railed against makeup in my writing...trying to do so in a light-hearted and fun way, but not always succeeding.
I'm on Facebook...but i ignore it strenuously. I guess i only keep it so that long-lost acquaintances might find me.
And more realness...even though the possibility of a romantic connection between us is fanciful, non-essential, incidental, there's a part of me that's so damaged by how dysfunctional romance is in this society, somewhere inside i cringe at the mere thought. The possessiveness, the jealousy, the beautiful feelings turned to betrayal and disappointment and recrimination...all these thoughts in me have started a new romance poem, with the central metaphor being a blinding searchlight shined on every new love interest, like the bat-signal but with THE ONE??? written across the beam instead of a bat. How we turn such a beautiful, natural thing as romantic attraction into a horror show is quite stunning.
I'm not saying i can never imagine being in a romance again...but that would be a very sane response. For anyone.
Yes, i think humor is underrated too. I mean okay, partly it's just a coping device and not particularly noble in that regard...but i still think that humor is one of the primary indicators of intelligence. Even as a child i was partial to practical jokes and gallows humor. If someone hasn't figured out that we need to laugh to keep our sanity, especially in this world, they're missing something. Some of my more snooty friends have even looked down on my comedy tastes, like the AIRPLANE!/NAKED GUN movies.
So what makes you laugh?
I think romance was ruined even before the internet. I think 70s feminism killed a good way. When women demand equality, ALL THE OLD RULES have to be thrown out. You can't just tweak the system, it's too broken. So it might take another generation or two before romance even starts to become healthy again.
What some people miss about me, is that i'm generally quite the optimist. Even unjustifiably so. I need to believe that we can get past this post-agricultural, post-industrial nightmare.
I also read a lot about the science of human sexuality, and i like the things you say. You seem pretty knowing.
But what do i know?
happy hugs,

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"Life and Death on Mt. Everest"

(Sherpas and Himalayan Mountaineering)
-by sherry b. ortner
In the wake of the 1996 Everest disaster, the western fascination with climbing the world's highest mountains peaked (forgive me)...and not least of all in the literary world. Our obsession with the world's only weapon-free "death zones" is considerable, either for those who risk (or lose) their lives in the pursuit of defining their lives, or the rest of us who are content to visit vicariously. Many gripping, inspiring books have emerged in this literary sub-genre.
The only absolutely essential one among the lot belongs to ortner, who focuses on the single almost-universal feature of Everest history -  the sherpa. This nepalese culture has provided almost all of the high-altitude porters in the century-long history of himalayan high-peak climbing. In essence, the sherpa are the folks who have done all the hard work so that rich westerners could pursue their dreams of achievement, anti-modernity, or glory. If not for the sherpa, the first ascent of Everest wouldn't have been in 1953, but rather twenty-five years later when messner became the first to ascend without porters (or supplemental oxygen). On the surface, the tale of the sherpa is one of vulgar exploitation - in addition to doing all the heavy lifting, the sherpa death rate is more than six times higher than any other country. Nor were the sherpa just doing something that came naturally to them - contrary to stereotype, they have no biological superiority as climbers, and had never before ventured into the himalayan death zones (indeed, they had strong cultural prohibitions against doing so - it would be seventy years of playing "coolie" before an all-nepalese expedition went to Everest).
Ortner tackles the question of exploitation, and finds the answer complex. As an anthropologist, she views human interaction in terms of layers of interactive "games"
(economic/gender/class/religious/etc.) that occur simultaneously, sometimes reinforcing each other, but often working at odds. Many of the traditional views of the sherpa (childlike, devoted, happy-go-lucky) are revealed as racial constructs that barely scratch the surface.
As literature, the book is a bit unfocused. A work strictly for the layperson could communicate just as much at half the length. Indeed, as one reviewer commented, "Life and Death..." has the feel of an academic monograph that some publisher decided might sell, so had ortner make cosmetic changes for the mass market. But if you're of a studious bent, the deeper cultural analyses are a fine read, and ortner writes very clearly. She thinks clearly too, especially when navigating the nigh-impossibility of complete understanding in matters of cultural relativity.
The mindset of the "sahib" is also given deconstruction, as an understanding of western attitudes is essential to perceiving how the sherpa have been shaped by (and shaped in return) western presence.
If you're a part of the climbing culture, this book is essential. If you have apathy or even disdain for said culture, but would love to understand the curious symbiosis (mutual, profoundly-unbalanced parasitism?) between sherpa and "sahib", this is the place to start.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


We met through a mutual friend. As doreen walked away after our first meeting, i tried to not watch her go, but failed. Her energy was beautiful, and her ass hypnotizing. When we met again, i found out that our friend had instructed her to not flirt with first i thought because this friend wanted me for herself, but perhaps it was because she wanted to "protect" doreen, who drank a good deal and was in an unstable marriage. Because our mutual friend was ultra-conservative, perhaps she wanted to make sure that doreen wouldn't be "unfaithful". Maybe it was both of those things? Whatever the case, doreen soon did flirt with me, freely and fully. We started spending time together, and very quickly that involved holding and hugging. It was exciting...on the surface we had much in common spiritually. She had a hard time relating to this uptight world, and joked about being planted here by aliens. She loved my spirit, and my stories and songs. It was all so much easygoing fun, and i was so lonely and touch-deprived that i wasn't inclined to overthink things - we were soon cuddling naked. Her drinking gave me pause, though. Being together with a new love is such an escapist rush, and the fact that she wanted to have a drink or two on top of that (while i wasn't drinking at all) seemed...curious. The second time we cuddled, it became sexual. Her intentions were clear, she had even brought lube. After a few minutes, she reached for my cock, but i wasn't erect. Had i been, would i have given her what she wanted? Even though i have no respect for marriage, i knew there was so much we hadn't talked about. Why was she still married, if they were no longer sexual and the relationship was presumably a source of misery for both? I didn't care about "adultery", but wanted nothing to do with secrets. Was my lack of fast erection just about sexual chemistry? Or my subconscious misgivings? Or just a commonstance of middle age? She asked whether she could give me oral sex. I knew there were emotional pitfalls we hadn't even begun to broach, but i was so tired of everyone in this world (me included) relentlessly denying their own humanity. I said yes, and she dove in. It was lovely. After that, it became clear that she could only be with me on the sly, and i began pulling back, saying we needed to talk about all these issues. She showed no interest in that, and when she encouraged me to stop by her place, i begged off, not wanting to face her husband until she and i had talked all this through. That conversation never came, and a couple months later i moved across country. I stopped by her home on my way out of town, and had a lovely visit with her and her husband, whom i liked too.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

"Planet of the Apes"

Take your hands off me, you damn dirty...
The classic APES franchise. One moment of brilliance followed by a parade of putrescence?
Substantially, but not quite.
PLANET OF THE APES (1968) ****
Solidly based on the fantastic novel by pierre boulle, the original is a classic, and rightfully so. A trio of astronauts experience an accident that brings them back after 2000 years. They crash on a planet they are unaware is Earth, and find a society of talking chimps, gorillas, and orangutans who have enslaved a population of pre-vocal (or post, rather) humans. An intelligent, seamless script married to a lightning strike of acting/directing/production chemistry. So absorbing, you forget any thoughts of overt artistic message, until it all comes hammering home in the vision of the half-buried remains of the Statue of Liberty. A career-defining performance by charlton heston (BEN-HUR, TOMBSTONE). The ape makeup is exquisite. The only major flaw is the marginalization of females - the lone human woman is essentially a mute supermodel (insert obvious joke here). But otherwise...a film deserving of consideration on any "greatest movies ever" list.
A sequel that attempts to further the original artistic vision, not just copy it. On future Earth, an underground human society worships a derelict nuclear doomsday weapon. More astronauts arrive in search of the first crew, and the apes pursue them. Heston plays a small but crucial part. It ends realistically, with planetary annihilation. Not nearly as great as the original...but a million times more worthy than JAWS 2 or TEMPLE OF DOOM.
The chimps cornelius (franchise cornerstone roddy macdowall - TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY, FUNNY LADY) and zira flee the doomed Earth in a salvaged spaceship, and time travel to our present day. They hide their intelligence and knowledge of the future as long as they can, but eventually end up in government torture/interrogation. They escape, and are given sanctuary in a carnival run by ricardo montalban (FANTASY ISLAND, STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN). Before being killed with cornelius, zira gives birth to a child who is spirited away. A fine try, but the writing and balance falter...
Montalban raises the orphaned chimp in a time when all dogs and cats go extinct, and are replaced as human slaves by non-human apes. The child (also beautifully played by macdowall) has all the intelligence and abilities of his parents, and ends up leading an ape revolution. A bit plodding, but worthy - the wild card that keeps the franchise from being a perfect jaws spiral. The original brutally murderous ending has been restored in blu-ray.
In a post-nuclear world, the ape leader caesar has built up ape society, and tries to foster amicable relations with the surviving effort which is subverted by a pocket of humans still highly armed. Cue the title. The whole affair feels like a pretense for the mindless, interminable battle scene.
Beyond all that, the only conspicuous, consistent failing of the franchise is in reinforcing the misconception that humans aren't apes. We are one of six ape species on the planet, and the fantasy that we're not is one of the chief reasons why our own extinction will probably mean the end of all other animal life too. Is it too much to hope that the current re-boot of the franchise includes a population of speaking bonobo apes? Now THAT would sell some popcorn! Perhaps the most perfect classic APES experience however, would be watching the first movie followed by the short-lived TV series. Those episodes lack any particular intellectual ambition, but they do have the tightness and charm that the big-screen sequels failed to recapture.