Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Complete Idiot's Guide For Dummies

Riding the crowded N/R train this morning, I noticed that the lady beside me was engrossed in her copy of "The Complete IDIOT'S Guide To Weight Loss," which appeared to be over 200 pages long. ??? Surely, it wouldn't require two hundred pages to say

1) Eat less
2) Exercise more
3) Check out this handy food pyramid!
4) More water, less soda
5) Snackwells do not cause rapid weight loss

[Did the "Complete IDIOT's Guide" fitness plan involve lugging around a hefty tome in lieu of a flimsy pamphlet?]

I am fascinated with The "Complete Idiot's Guide" series, as well as the "[Insert Topic Here] For Dummies" series, as they appear to be a uniquely American phenomenon.

On jury duty I met a former stenographer from Miami who had a dog-eared copy of "Feng Shui For Dummies" in her clear plastic purse. She was really funny and we had bloody marys on our lunch break. I wish I had thought to ask her why she had chosen that particular book as her initiation into feng shui, in lieu of "Principles of Feng Shui?" "Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life: How to Use Feng Shui to get Love, Money, Respect and Happiness?" "A Master Course in Feng Shui?" "The Complete IDIOT's Guide to Feng Shui?" Would she have said, "Well, I'm no IDIOT, but "dummy"'s kind of cute!" evoking the same bashful aw-shucks naiveté women often affect in order to get guys to install their air-conditioners?

Why "For Dummies" and not "For Beginners?"

Because the increasing virulent anti-intellectualism in our country is propagating a culture of shame surrounding the desire to learn. In America, the literate ectomorph who loves French New Wave films is a de facto faggot: girls fear being rejected by the boy they like for being smarter. Obviously readers are out there longing to explore the subjects covered in the Complete Idiot's Guides to Understanding Islam/Knitting and Crocheting/Amazing Sex/Laborador Retrievers/The Arctic and Antarctica, and Texas Hold’Em -- why must they a priori demean themselves for their natural curiosity?

This series' very existence is a rueful collective apologia for the desire to learn. It's the same shame expressed in half the country's insistence that W's inability to speak a simple sentence was proof of his down-home honest humility, while Kerry was one of those "know-it-all" liberals. It's "Idiot Pride" -- Declare yourself an "idiot" from the get-go, and if you don't end up getting anywhere, why, shucks -- no one can fault you!

As an experiment, I went to and did a search for "idiot." It gave me two categories: "Books in English" followed by "Books." Under “books,” my top four options were:

L'idiot du village: fantaisie romanesque (The Village Idiot: A Romanesque Fantasy)
Dostoyevsky's The Idiot
L'idiot chinois (The Chinese Idiot)
Métamorphoses de l'idiot

"Books in English" yielded: "The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Texas Hold'Em."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Who's Your Dada?

Ceci n'est pas Jeff Gannon!


Has anyone else noticed how hysterical the reporting of the weather has become? I've lost count of the SEVERE WEATHER ALERTS for the New York area over the past several months. In the Fall, there were several warnings of "urban flooding." Never have I seen flooding here that threatened to moisten my upper shins, and I still haven't. Tonight, I'm warned that TEMPERATURES WILL DIP BELOW FREEZING FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE OVERNIGHT... AS WELL AS THE EARLY MORNING DAYLIGHT HOURS ON TUESDAY. THIS WILL RESULT IN ICY PATCHES ... Wasn't this at one time known as "Winter"?

I eagerly await the day that advertisers can tap directly into my hippocampus and manipulate fear-reactions. That way I will at least be spared the poor prose and scare-caps, not to mention "Shark Week."

Friday, February 18, 2005

Blogs We Like: MasaManiA=道徳遊戯

The two weirdest countries in the world are the U.S. and Japan. I really don't think that there can be any doubt about this, and the weirdness is for both good and bad. What's interesting is that the natives of each country seem not to realize just how much weirdness surrounds them. MasaManiA is an
exception. He knows how completely bizarre is Japanese culture and is not afraid to say so. Indeed, he describes his blog as a
新 聞に載らない日本紹介 Japanese culture report by MasaManiA with fucking photo & poor English you never seen at boring CNN, Time or major sophisticated jurnalism.


I don't know what is good, bad, right or wrong,
but I certainly know there is the truth ! and I also know it must be FUCK !

I'm not moralist. but wana be mania of the truth. MasaManiA means that. this is my philosophy.
Let's get one thing straight. MasaManiA's English isn't bad at all. Reading this, I'm reminded of the joke,
Q: What do you call someone who speaks two languages?
A: Bilingual.
Q: What do you call someone who speaks three languages?
A: Trilingual.
Q: What do you call someone who speaks only one language?
A: American.
This blog is no MasaManiA has no illusions about the English language or American culture. He has only this powerful urge to communicate in English and he does so with an astonishing, face-slapping honesty.

How can you not love a blogger who notes in his profile that
... I study English hard, so i have no time to post new entry to my site. And I also update my site so hard, so i have no time to study English.

This is kind of dilenma ...
... and one moment later tells us that
[w]hen I worked as a porn film director, lots of people scorn my job, and looked down on me. But I know lots of people interesting in fuck. Not only young person, but also old person. And not only barbaric laboric class, but also noble upper class. Not only Clinton, but also Japanese prime minister also like to fuck. It’s absolutely true.
We love MasaManiA for his honesty, for his willingness to fall all over his own English, for his love of American pop culture and fury at American politics, for his guerrilla photographs of Japan, and for his approach to sexuality that is completely orthogonal to Freud. But he completely won me over with this post in which he asked ...
Do you know the old philosopher, Diogenes? When he was lying on the street, King ask Diogenes what can he help him ? and then, Diogenes tell king fuck away because king block sun shine. This is famous episod in book worms.

WHen i walking on the tokyo street, I met lying man. He seem to be present Diogenes !
... and reminded me that most Americans, who are supposed to be descended from the tradition to which he refers, know Colin Farrell but not Diogenes or Alexander or Aristotle.

Rock on, MasaManiA.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Mission: Impossible

I've been reading a lot lately about the "gay agenda" and the sanctity of marriage and the dangers posed by cartoon characters and frankly wondering what the big deal is. I think I finally understand. Americans, looking to old Outer Limits episodes for sociological guidance, see gays as an invading alien race who, unable themselves to reproduce, can assure their continued existence and eventual takeover of the planet only by recruiting innocent children.

Let me put your mind at ease, America: the gays suck at recruitment. If they failed to win me over then they have no chance at all with your corn syrup-fed, god-fearing youngsters.

As a teenager I lived on the corner of (I am not making this up) Christopher Street and Gay Street, in the gayest neighborhood East of the Castro, in arguably the gayest period in the history of New York. In 1976, I was a 15 year-old, tall, slender, blonde, blue-eyed virgin, surrounded — and I mean literally surrounded — by gay men, gay culture. I had every possible characteristic the alien recruiters could hope for. I was morbidly sensitive, had a father who was sometimes absent and always weak, an adoring mother. I was interested in literature and the arts, was soft-spoken and had close, platonic friendships with girls. I even saw A Chorus Line on Broadway. Twice, actually. I admired my gay great-uncle for the way he could be loving towards his family and yet maintain a sanity-preserving distance, as well as for his collection of jazz 78s and the way he could rock a satin smoking jacket. I listened willingly to Barbara Streisand and Bette Midler and Leo Sayer on my gay babysitter's 8-track.

The advantages to becoming a gay man were not lost on me. They went to all the best parties, had all the best drugs, and seemed to be unburdened by the middle-class mores that left their straight contemporaries tired and defeated by forty. Gay men were on the wrong side of the punk/disco battles, as far as I was concerned, but détente was reached at Danceteria, if not already at the Mudd Club.

So I perused the brochures sent to me by the nice people at Gay Agenda and was particularly impressed by how these guys who worked in fashion and the arts and entertainment got to hang around with the very hottest girls. But then, deal-breaker: it turned out that if I were to sign-up I wouldn't get to have sex with these girls. And as much as I liked the clothes and the parties and the drugs and the idea of not having to hitch my Dockers up around my expanding waist at the company bar-b-cue, I just couldn't give up that dream of maybe one day having sex with a real live girl. I couldn't help this any more than I could help the boner that popped every time Miss Kearns appeared in class wearing her sky-blue mini-dress and canary-yellow tights, or than I could help those Emma Peel dreams that necessitated doing laundry on the sly.

Of course I couldn't. What could be more primary, more deeply-held, more resistant to manipulation than one's sexuality? Think about it. What could anyone have done to you at any point that could have changed your desire-nature? What image or idea could have overriden all of the crazy, gripping, insistent biology of your adolesence? If you had seen a cartoon rabbit visiting a lesbian couple, how would it have changed your physiological reaction to seeing Baywatch for the first time? Do you think that the daughter of a Republican senator and Secretary of Defense growing up in Wyoming saw Billie Jean King on TV and thought, oh ... ?

It doesn't work that way and you know it doesn't work that way. No one is genuinely fearful that the gays are going to "get" their children. There's no way. We all know how utterly impossible that is. We've all felt the profound inevitability of our sexuality. What some of us find frightening isn't that our children might not choose to be like us, or choose not to be what some 2,000 year-old compendium of writings by nomadic desert peoples says that they ought to be, but that, in this regard, they may not get to choose at all, that who they are, sexually, is determined by who they are biologically.

The fear then isn't fear of behavior, but fear of being, of body, of being a particular kind of embodied being in the world. But we are just like this, creatures like this, and being like this is our very deepest particularity. And if you believe in a god, what could be more blasphemous than to insist that its creation not express its deepest, truest nature?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Designer Impostors

Unlike your typical "whiny liberal," I loathe The New York Times. I loathe the Times' precious, mealy-mouthed prose,
delusions of gravitas, and overall cowardly reportage. Gone the way of Woody Allen -- a once great-ish, now wrinkly ol' shadow of his former self, an incestuous, self-referential, "Kierkegaard"-dropping -every - ten - minutes - without - having - read - him, clarinet-noodling fossil -- if the Times were once the bar at the Algonquin, it is now the Barnes and Noble in Columbus Circle, or -- let's face it -- the IKEA cafe in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

I digress.

This bit of malarkey from Michael Behe, one of the proponents of the "Intelligent Design" movement's so-called argument against evolution, appeared in the Op-Ed section on Monday. It is a completely vacuous bricolage of assertions, culminating in what is essentially "well, basically a lot of people who have no truck with this science mumbo-jumbo think someone designed the planet, so there you go, Mr. Science Men!" It pissed me off, but mostly because of who Mr. Behe's "fellows" are. So, I did what I have never done before: in lieu of bitching or blogging, I actually wrote (and sent!) a letter to the editor:

Michael J. Behe asserts that "intelligent design is not a religiously
based idea, even though devout people opposed to the teaching of
evolution cite it in their arguments."

That may be, but it's a pretty disingenuous statement coming from a
research fellow for the Discovery Institute, the organization whose
mission statement proclaims that the Institute "seeks nothing less
than the overthrow of materialism ... and to replace it with a science
consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."

Where is the press release from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories
renewing their commitment to the "materialist agenda?" I suspect the
staff has been too occupied with actual scientific research, in
accordance with the scientific method -- the same scientific method
taught alongside evolution in Catholic schools -- to draft such a

Lillet Langtry
Brooklyn, February 5, 2005

I figured the Times would get a zillion letters about this, and might not print mine, given the likelihood that several people might conceiveably make this obvious point w/r/t the intellectual bankruptcy of that fucking Op-Ed in two paragraphs instead of three.

They didn't publish my letter. No problem! But look at the 8 letters that they DID publish -- not ONE addresses that having a "Fellow" from the Discovery Institute provide the DL on DI is as appropriate as inviting Jocelyn Wildenstein to be the keynote speaker at a conference on "Celebrating Your Natural Beauty" given by the American Plastic Surgeons' Association.

Ooops! Did I just scoop next Sunday's Styles?

Sunday, February 06, 2005

America, Go To Your Room

I can't believe I live in a country where pharmacists can refuse to prescribe birth control for women if it is against their personal "beliefs," but now Viagra is going to be covered under most health plans.

I sure hope all this Viagra is to better facilitate the conception of babies in "wholesome," "Christian" marriages.

Theoretically, what is to protect these un-contracepted women from the possible impregnations of Viagrated fratboys, if their pharmacist gets all uppity on their poor selves? Why are men allowed to bang away for unskilled hours at a time but if a chick doesn't want to get pregnant she is — to put it plainly — screwed?

Gentle Reader — I'm not anti-Viagra — we've all experienced disappointment when a hard-on is a no-show. Yet, we all also should know by now that a boner is not the be-all and end-all of sexual pleasure, unless you are a fifteen-year old boy. But then, ours repeatedly proves itself to be a throughly adolescent culture. It's all about who can poke poke poke away for the longest at the lucky girl with the blondest, fakest boobs. Hey, dude! I'll race ya!!

Let me tell you something, men of America — Girls don't come from thinking of England as your cock plows their furrow for the 4th hour with two to go! America, why don't you stop waving around that giant foam finger and looking for the Jumbotron while you get it on? Jesus.

Now, I love sex and think about sex all day long. Sex with my husband is the greatest ever! It's the greatest. And guess what? It's not because he's on Viagra and has his cock in me for six hours. Bo-RING! It's so American in the most restraining-order-requiring way that the government will gladly pay for its male citizens' hard-ons, given that this "assistance" in no way guarantees the basic understanding to pleasure their now-to-be-fearful of-unwanted-preganancied paramours properly. Wait! Maybe the guy could just fuck you in the ass for six hours! Or wait — would that be too "gay?"

Good for me, America, that I've taken my Awesome Blossom off the menu! Where is the drug that compels men to brush your hair and then eat your pussy for six uninterrupted hours before fucking you? That's what I'd like to know! And no, Sting, I don't mean you and your namby-pamby tantric nonsense.

Thank heavens I'm married to Trey! I am so grateful that I will get on my knees and thank my lucky stars — among other things — the minute I get home! Move over, Janice!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Suburban Renewal

This is an illustrative rendering of the proposed redevelopment of N4th Street in Williamsburg, walking distance from where we live, and where Lillet's band's practice space is located.

Upon seeing this Lillet asked, "We're moving to Toronto?" This, of course, reminded me of Peter Ustinov's description of Toronto as "New York run by the Swiss."

But this looks to me more like Cupertino.