Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Strip Club Paradox, or How I Lost an Argument

There are many things one can do on a Saturday night. Take out a nice, sweet girl to dinner and movie. Go to a sporting event. Absorb some culture in an art museum. Drive to a crush's house, throw eggs at her bedroom window and then drive off to a dark alley to weep. There are also some things one should probably avoid doing on a Saturday night, like taking several rowdy, unbearably loud friends to a strip club. And going there with the goal of spending the entirety of your weekly paycheck. And arriving so completely drunk you don't realize you're wearing two different shoes. And not realizing you're the designated driver.

I know what you're thinking. "For the love of God, Matt, does this ever end with you? Is everything debauchery and darkness? Where's the levity? Where's the sunshine?" Well, I wouldn't know about sunshine because I'm typing this from inside a fortified bunker. And besides, there's a full confession I'd like to make: I loathe strip clubs. With a passion. They're dank, they're soul-crushing, they're degrading to the women who participate and to the men who watch them. They're degrading to the owner and even the DJ. They take the purity of the human body and human sensuality and coat it with deliciously nasty oil and rub it down until its toes tingle. They take good taste and slap it repeatedly with a pastie-covered boob. They support drug addicts and ne'er-do-wells. I dread going.

But I'm always the one to suggest going.

There's something to be said about exposing oneself to things one hates. It's like force-feeding yourself a food object you can't stand repeatedly in order to learn to stand it. Remember that first sip of Jack Daniel's your father gave you when you were a toddler? I do, and it tasted horrible. But damn it, I fought that initial distaste and now my liver is turning multiple shades of puce. Same thing with smoking cigarettes: it burns the first time you try it, as if your respiratory system is foolishly trying to keep you from harming it, but you train your body to tolerate the toxins, to reject the need to breathe freely and before you know it you're up to three packs a day and want to sue Philip Morris. Going to a strip club is a personal test: if I go in alone, pay for several lap dances from a variety of girls from a variety of racial backgrounds, pay for a couple quick one dollar couch dances, toss a couple of bills to a favorite dancer of mine (Candice) as she twirls around center stage, tip the bartender and doorman and bouncer ... if I can do all that, experience all that, leave five hours later, get into my car and feel nauseous and bad and displeased with myself, well, then I know I'm still okay. That means I'm on the right track.

I'd be on the wrong track if I enjoyed myself and was glad I went.

Shared self-loathing is, naturally, better than self-loathing sustained by yourself. Getting good and liquored up ahead of time with several wild and crazy compadres and convincing them to accompany you is a brilliant tactic. If everyone has a great time and you feel like crud, you can accept the accolades from your peers and celebrate a night deviously wasted (while still maintaining that inner disgust). If everyone feels ugly and blames you for taking them, play the defensive card: insist that you were more than willing to go by yourself, that no one was dragged against their will, that you had fun. Point out how attractive that one girl was. Blame them and their lack of an imagination, or make a comment about how prudish they're being.

Something to watch out for is the aftermath of the strip club experience: sometimes some of the people that will accompany you will be in committed relationships and have wives, girlfriends and fiancées. Some of these females might find this particular Saturday activity revolting (and they will be correct in that assessment). They will want answers as to whose idea it was to go in the first place. This is where everyone will start to point fingers, and based on personal experience, those fingers end up in my general direction. This is where denial is essential. Tell them how disgusting you find it. Tell them about how everyone ran out of better time-wasting alternatives. Blame the tequila shots everyone did ahead of time. Get into the part about how you were wearing two different shoes and unfit to be designated driver. Explain how you were there to do research for a role in a movie you haven't been cast for. Whine about how you spent your paycheck in a few hours and can't make rent. Plead for sympathy. Insist you're weak inside and need help.

Pray someone believes you.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Obama Is Correct Roughly 71-82% of the Time

Why was it that about a year ago, whenever Obama said virtually anything remotely intelligent ("Broccoli is good for your health," "War is expensive") you needed a Hazmat team to clean up the collective spooge caking up on the Internet and flowing freely through the streets (it was like the orgy at the end of that movie Perfume that only me and a guy from Cyprus I know bothered watching). Back then, Obama told you to brush your teeth and your gums started bleeding in anticipation. Obama told you to buy a Blackberry and Verizon immediately hired new slaves and trained them to rape you on your service plan. Obama said he liked cookies and you went into diabetic shock. Now, he's still making sense - all right, maybe 7-9% less, but you get the idea - and yet something changed in you. You're acting like Cornel West at a Klan rally or Frank Rich at a high school musical. The indignation is choking the oxygen out of you.

Well, get in that Iron Lung because baby, you've lost it again and we need you back. After eight years of America's first dictator you appeared to be prepped for a new Sheriff, but when Change, Hope and the Horsemen of the 21st Century moseyed up to the ranch you got all like, "Whoa, whoa, what about that color-coded alert thing that told me stuff was Orange and that meant I should report suspicious people at Whole Foods who weren't wearing baseball hats" and "Mr. President, you're using the intelligent words from those books we should have burned and me and Pa and Ma and the dogs are confused as all get out." A few months ago I could have accepted your skepticism: you're used to the guy who squinted and told you about bad guys and gettin' those bad guys and bombing rock formations and accomplishing missions and that waveboarding thing that makes the terror guys spill their guts. But it's been more than a few months and you're already reaching for the adult Pampers, the tin foil hats and running back to your bunkers.

Europe likes us? You're skeptical. Health care needs changing? You're skeptical. Infrastructure needs fixing? You're skeptical. The environment needs saving? You're skeptical. Gotta stop occupying foreign lands because it's dangerous and counterproductive? You're skeptical. Milk is a good source of calcium? You're skeptical. Closing Gitmo? You're not skeptical, you're hysterical. Get real, fellow peons: you don't have a job anymore because it got sent to Sri Lanka, you can't afford your medication and you don't even have a clunker to cash in. If you get really sick, no one is going to take care of you: the hospital orderlies are going to drive your ass to the seediest part of town and throw you in a gutter (seriously, they do that in Los Angeles). Will you be yelling, "This is America not Canada, fuck yeah!" when a derelict is urinating on you and it still feels like someone parked their Ford F-150 right on top of your chest?

Then, not only is CEO Barack - who some of you still think is from Kenya or someplace in Africa you couldn't find using Google Earth - trying to make sure everyone has some kind of health insurance and trying to keep people from dying and suffering - which is humane, you hicks - but then he comes out and says something else quite clear: that as a parents you're morons and your children are thug gangsters getting trounced intellectually on the world stage. He's right. "Don't post pictures of you and your friends robbing a liquor store on Facebook." Clear as day. "Reading books isn't always fun but it's how you learn." Okay. "Respect your teachers because they know more than you do." Nice reasoning. Nothing heretical in there, like those crazy ideas that homosexual couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples or that the Earth is actually a sphere or that it's a natural phenomenon called gravity that keeps my Hyundai from floating into space.

I'm not saying you have to buy what the man is selling you right away, and I'll never say don't question the status quo, but give this some time. No, things aren't ironed out yet. It took God more than one day to build this shithole planet and even he screwed up royally. So take a deep breath in, a deep breath out, a deep breath in, a deep breath out, then stick your face in that brown bag you sprayed with paint and inhale sharply. Repeat until you love everyone and everything.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Some Correctives Regarding Internet Usage and Social Networking in an Age of Dumbassery

These are bound to change over time, but after several years of 'studying' the Internet and the behavior of its denizens, here are a few humble requests, observations and concerns. The web sites will change in time but human nature does not change:

01a. You don't need to post hundreds of photos of yourself if you are only capable of making one facial expression. You also don't have to post hundreds of photos of yourself at parties holding oversized Solo cups. It makes me and everyone else think you have a drinking problem or are running away from your demons.

01b. Likewise, it is unnecessary for you to always pose in photos with your significant other of the moment kissing. What this says is that you need outside validation that the relationship is real. People in relationships that last don't even stay in the same room together for more than a few hours if they aren't sleeping. Unless you and your partner are literally surgically attached, you can just have a simple image of yourself, some place, doing something as an autonomous being.

01c. Every single moronic post doesn't have to be about your significant other, as if that other person is your entire world ("I like honey in my tea and so does Jared!! We were meant to be together until our ashes co-mingle!!!!1"). While you're being clingy, he's thinking about fingering your best friend.

02. If you are over 40, you should not have a Facebook or MySpace account. It's like spending a Sunday afternoon alone walking around Toys 'R Us with a cup of coffee in your hand and without a shopping cart. It's freaking everyone out.

03. If you have a neurological disorder, an emotional disorder, a speech disorder or some combination of the above you do not need your own YouTube channel with daily updates. The Internet is not your Therapy Room or your Diary, it is a Hall of Mirrors, the true manifestation of the human subconscious. De Sade should have only lived so long.

04. Your art is terrible. Stop uploading it. The one drawing you did looks like Raggedy Ann getting sodomized by a Christmas Tree. The other piece you made out of lipstick, fingernail clippings and your brother's pubic hair is only slightly better.

05a. I know it's difficult to say this, but would it kill you to go to the movies once in a while? I know some people who never leave their house: they just download everything. I'm not asking to stop downloading altogether - that would be like asking Christians to be sane - but spending $7 to support a small indie theater (or even $9 for a multiplex) once in a while is good for everybody. And when you're there, shut your fucking mouth because Keira Knightley is talking.

05b. Same thing applies to downloading albums: if the musician(s) you like come(s) to town, show up, buy a T-shirt, drink a beer, talk to someone. You support the band, the venue and the Beer Gods who brew Guinness. And for you pervy types - of which I cannot be included - crowded concerts often mean accidentally brushing up against pretty girls who are dancing in front of you and are too drunk to care that they are using your skinny, denim-clad leg as a makeshift sybian. But again, this does not pertain to me. I also do not cry myself to sleep every night.

06. No one needs to see videos of your hemorrhoid surgery. Or gall bladder surgery. Or your fetish for shoving breakable glass jars up your rectum. I've seen so many medical horrors I didn't even have to go to Medical School: Johns Hopkins just faxed me a diploma. Strangers come up to me with their rashes and I can tell them whether it's psoriasis or eczema. I know treatment options for all STDs. I've assisted with two live births.

07a. Stop treating your newborn children like trophies and posting pictures of them on Facebook, MySpace, etc. They are not prizes. The sole reason you, as an animal, exist is to reproduce. You might as well post pictures of yourself eating breakfast or eliminating waste or sleeping, because they are also basic human functions.

07b. Stop using your child's photo as your avatar on blogs, chat rooms or message boards, unless your child is actually punching out the messages. It gives further evidence that the things you post carry with them the intellectual weight of a 4-year-old.

07c. Further, your newborn does not need an e-mail account or a cell phone or his/her own live video feed. Stop trying to convince everyone that it's adorable. It isn't. It looks just like you.

08a. Stop telling everyone you have problems cutting yourself and then posting pictures of your flayed limbs for pity. If you can still operate a digital camera, the cuts aren't deep enough. Google "Stihl +arm +pain".

08b. If you murder your girlfriend and saw off her limbs and head, don't use your iPhone to photograph it. You might as well handcuff yourself, read yourself your rights and throw yourself into the back of a random squad car.

08c. If you kill your newborn child and throw it in a field, do not include MapQuest directions with your accompanying Twitter post. ("Whew, those babysitters were expensive.")

09. Teachers: Stop adding your students as 'friends' on Facebook, MySpace, etc. while they are still your students. You don't need to know what fifteen-year-olds are doing on Friday nights, and they don't need to know that you like dabbling in cocaine and once had a three-way with two tiny Koreans as an undergrad at Penn State. And you wonder why they're building more jails for you.

10. Teenage Girls: Stop taking pictures and/or making videos of yourselves stripping or masturbating. I know all of you are proud of your bodies (despite evidence that many of you need to use a goddamn treadmill), and all of you probably intended the photos/videos to be seen by only one other person, but none of you seem able to grasp how the Internet functions - those pictures and videos are going to end up everywhere: the hard drives of priests, your closest friends, those dorks in school you wouldn't give the wrong time of day, your father's buddies, your school principal, complete strangers, your future employers, the authorities. Unless you want to have an awkward talk with your Mom about why all the hair brushes in the house smell like a combination of blood and trout, please heed my advice.

11. If you have an e-Spouse, that's Darwin's way of telling you that you will die alone.

12a. I never want to hear about your concerns for privacy and the government taking an interest in your meaningless life if you list the following on any social networking website: your birth date, the high school you attended, your height and weight, your home address, your home phone number, your private cell phone number, your AIM handle, your personal web sites, your blood type, the jobs you've held, the college(s) you've attended and the clubs you were an active member of, your hobbies, hang-out spots, who you've made out with in the last six months, your yearly salary, your credit score, the year and model of the car you drive and your current GPS coordinates. Your major concern isn't Uncle Sam, but the Son of Sam.

12b. There has never been a better time to be a stalker.