Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
In keeping with my mantra of "writer's write", I am doing a little self promotion here and linking to an article I wrote to support a segment on The Atlantic about religion.
Warning: They cut out the funny parts. Bastages.
Saturday, June 11, 2016
Everyone should have a creative outlet. There are those who play music. There are others who scrap book. There are some people who can truly work miracles with a rudimentary set of tools and a few pieces of wood. Others strive to craft the perfect game of bowling, achieve an elusive hole-in-one or seek to experience the ultimate adrenaline climax through high-octane, death-defying pursuits such as sky diving or Jello wrestling. As for myself, I tend to enjoy propelling my blood alcohol level up past my IQ and then use a keyboard to bare my soul before the anonymous masses of the Cyberian Under Culture. (Actually, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. After taking a quick look at the site traffic meter to this blog, I am pretty much only talking to you.)
Anyway, I like to write. I’ve been writing for years. There was actually a period in my life several years ago where I regularly contributed to a (now defunct) comedy website and I occasionally even got paid for it. Now admittedly, I was not published often, mainly due to the fact that you would be surprised by how miniscule the market is for long, graphic, explicitly epic anecdotes detailing explosive bouts of food poisoning set amongst the exotic red light districts of the Far East. I have never even attempted to submit the bulk of my work for publication and eventually just stopped writing altogether.
Recently however, I was approached to write a small article for DDEAF, a local magazine catering to the Detroit area fashion scene. It was not a very big article, but it was fun and to be honest, it kind of reignited my desire to start indulging my bardic tendencies once more. The editor seemed to like what I did and requested another piece for their summer issue. Excited to get started writing again, I set myself down in front of my monitor, blew the dust off of my keyboard, placed my fingers in the starting position and…immediately careened head-on into a debilitating case of writer’s block. The problem is that I know virtually nothing about fashion, as anybody who as ever seen me dress myself will enthusiastically attest to. No, if you want mildly amusing semi-biographical anecdotes about an ill-advised drunken tour of some of the seedier back alleys of Thailand’s Pattaya Beach on the back of an elephant, I’m your guy. If you really need 1500 words authoritatively critiquing the Armani spring collection, a half page written on men’s hair care tips or even a list of 5 effective methods of birth control, it would probably be in your best interest to look into hiring someone else. Not that I am above trying to wing it for a check that I could put towards my bar tab at one of my neighborhood watering holes.
Ultimately though, if I want to be writer, especially a paid writer, I need to write. And I need to write religiously. Which brings me to this: The Libertine Manifesto. Now, I am currently writing two books. One has the working title The Damned of St Andrews and is a semi-autobiographical account of my efforts to break into a punk concert at Detroit’s St. Andrews Hall in the early 1980’s. The other is a novel about a man who finds himself in New Orleans in the midst of a midlife crisis who unwittingly proves instrumental in founding a cult-like social movement. The bulk of my efforts on writing these two pieces consist of my sitting motionless at my desk, staring at a blank page on my monitor and trying to force the words of these novels out of my mind to rush maniacally towards my fingertips. Basically, my cold starts are proving ineffective and I have decided I need to warm up a bit, hence my re-entry into blogging with The Libertine Manifesto.
Now the concept of the Libertine Manifesto is actually a couple of decades old, born in the Kowloon District of Hong Kong during a particularly vicious bender with a group of expatriate South Africans whose names I have long since forgotten. We were reveling in our rather unrepentant hedonistic tendencies and wishing there was some sort of school for free spirited souls wishing to gloriously misspend their youths pursuing misadventures abroad seeking the wanton indulgence of intoxicants, adrenaline and wild monkey lovin’. Cognizant that a brick and mortar institution promoting depraved excess was probably not feasible, I thought that coming up with a sort of instructional manual for the aspiring alcoholic might be doable and I tried to craft a rough draft with paper and pencil that I named The Third World Inebriate. This eventually morphed into an article published on Zug.com about a decade ago.
My career in misbehavior on a global scale came to an end soon afterward as well. At the time Third World Inebriate was published, my third child was born and my priorities shifted. It was time for me to declare a truce in my one man war against lucidity and shift my focus onto doing whatever I could to ensure my children grew up with the proper tools required to embrace life with the same exuberance I had. It was an epic fifteen or so year run, but it was time to grow up, so I did. I started neglecting my drinking, concentrating on my career more and before I knew it my free time was entirely consumed with home maintenance, shuttling people-larvae to various extra-curricular activities and trying to figure out how to fit the occasional meal in when a few precious seconds of free time opened up somewhere in all that chaos. Eventually, I became chronically fatigued, fat and entirely consumed by the corporate Borg. I had become the cliché, having completely embraced the repetitive, secure, and mind-numbingly ordinary existence I had considered a fate worse than death two decades earlier.
It is long past time to break out of that. I am under no illusions, my days of bar brawling my way across the Orient are long gone, but that does not mean I have to resign myself to merely existing instead of truly living. Don’t get me wrong, I still like my booze despite the fact that I have kind of been neglecting my drinking for the better part of a decade now. In fact, I cannot really write these “stream of consciousness” pieces without a drink on hand and the silver mug full of my signature Guatemalan Duck Sucker cocktail positioned half a foot away from my left hand right now is really The Libertine Manifesto’s creative advisor and G.D. Sucker is the one who advised me to start this blog so I could plug away at something when my muses get too stoned to show up for work on my other two writing projects.
So what is the Libertine Manifesto going to be about? Basically, my hopes for the manifesto are to be an instructional manual on how to live a life less ordinary. It may be my mid-life crisis talking, or maybe the liberal amount of rum that oversaturated my last Guatemalan Duck Sucker, but I kind of came to the stark realization that I have more good years behind me than I do in front of me and I really have no plans to throw any more of them away on merely subsisting. I am going to get my novels written. I am also going to get SCUBA certified. While I am at it, I am going to take up sky diving. I am going to become fluent in a foreign language and learn to play an instrument. I am going to learn to grow the vegetables required to formulate the perfect salsa and really take a Zen approach to perfecting my repertoire of cocktail recipes. I am going to earn a black belt in something and I am going to figure out a way to leverage my writing skills in a way that will pay enough for me to get to some exotic locale every couple of years so that I can drink too much and make really poor, but highly entertaining, decisions that I intend to document right here.
You see, I am not planning on just writing The Libertine Manifesto. I am planning on living it and living it well enough to convince a few of you to join me in doing so.
BONUS – GUATEMALAN DUCK SUCKER RECIPE
Fill a 24oz mug with ice
Add 2-3 shots of Bacardi Light Rum
Squeeze the juice of ½ Lime into the mug
Top off with 7Up
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Like this image? Get it on a t-shirt here!
Well, it looks like 2016 has found its contenders for America’s November Mud Wrestling Derby: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Now, for a man generally accustomed to voting for the lesser of two evils, I was initially perplexed upon who to vote for. It was like trying to decide whether I wanted my prostate exam to be performed with a pineapple or a straight razor. Ultimately though, it did not take much thought to come up with the lesser evil after putting a few minutes thought into it. I cannot vote for Trump. The reasons being:
- First and foremost, I want someone with at least a HINT of impulse control with their finger on the button. I am no pacifist, but I do not want our young people sent into harm’s way because some entitled thin-skinned sissy got his ego bruised
- As a veteran, I am tired of being used as some sort of patriotic prop by a draft dodger who avoided Vietnam not out of some sort of principle, but because he lacked the dedication to his country to serve, and had the resources required to get out of going. Sure, he gave a few millions to veteran’s groups recently, but only because the press called him on it
- Hostility to the press: Granted, our press is a mockery to the profession of journalism, but it still remains the ONLY tool we have to ensure at least SOME transparency among our elected officials. Trump’s extraordinary efforts to muzzle them, bully them and restrict them show me he has little respect for, or intent to uphold, the first amendment.
- Fear mongering: If there is one tool dictators the world over employ it is fear. They use some sort of bogey man to spook those under their control into relying upon them alone to keep them safe from whatever it is that scares them. Usually it is the threat of invasion (North Korea) or the ascension of some sort of rival ethnic group that will commit all sorts of atrocities against them if they ever seize power (Iraq). Trump uses illegal immigration, terrorism and socialism to whip the weak minded into the required apoplectic fit of hysterical xenophobia. A worthy politician will sell hope to get elected, not fear to divide and conquer.
- Trump is not exactly stoking fear in our potential adversaries such as Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong Un. He is, on the other hand, stoking a considerable amount of fear in our allies.
- Moral Depravity. I can’t disagree with you on how corrupt or depraved Hillary Clinton may be. I have no doubt that she takes all kinds of corporate money and intends to do her sponsors’ bidding once she takes office. The idea that Trump is any better is laughable. Where the Clintons took the money, Trump provided it (by his own freakin’ admission!) Trump is not running to fix this system – he is just cutting out the middle man. I firmly believe that a Trump presidency will do nothing to benefit anybody but Trump.
- Education. The fact that Trump has made it this far is a damning testament to just how badly our educational system has failed us. Trump will do nothing to improve this because, if you remember his victory speech in Nevada this year, he loves the poorly educated!
- Trump supporters. People like the KKK love Trump. I am not saying all people voting for Trump are like the KKK but those who enthusiastically support him do not strike me as deep thinkers. In fact, if I listed all of those I know whose counsel I would seek to enlighten me on some topic I just could not get my head around, every one of them is a steadfast Trump opponent to a man. On the other hand, those I do know who enthusiastically support him are typically followers who parrot what they hear on the radio or read on Facebook. They are people generally not accustomed to doing their own thinking.
I could throw up a few more why Hillary would be a better president than Trump but I have to get to work. Don’t get the impression I am endorsing Hillary, she is a deeply flawed candidate and probably one of the most repulsive people to ever run for the office (fortunately for her, she is not THE most repulsive). What she is though, is the candidate of the status quo. By electing her, we will just keep things the way they are, maybe buy us a little time until someone can come up with a shot of political penicillin to make the burning go away. I personally will not be voting for either, unless it looks like Trump has a real possibility of taking Michigan as I do believe her to be the proverbial lesser evil. Michigan is a comfortably blue state though, so I will probably pick a 3rd party to cast a protest vote for. I am under no illusions though, this will make no difference as most Americans will vote for either Trump or Clinton because either party could nominate Satan himself and the party faithful will vote for him anyway because we are too weak minded to do anything else.