Monthly Archives: March 2010

the water is fine

3/14/10

I have to admit, Friday’s comments took me a little by surprise, not just in the pathos of expressed sentiment, but in all the emails and Facebook messages from people wanting to know more intense details, and taking wild stabs at who might have posted what. And while I’m sure there are one or two on there that may not be entirely genuine (it is the internet, after all), let me just reiterate that you guys blow my mind with honesty and good writing.

Another surprise is that it has forced me to think defensively about marriage as an institution (disregarding for the moment the “having kids” question), because I really don’t want people coming away from this exercise thinking marriage ruins sex… and once that’s gone, the relationship will follow.

Sex remains – for all of us – an imperfect art. It’s that way while you’re a virgin, while you’re dating, while you’re falling in love, while you’re married, while you’re having kids, and while you’re growing older. Most of us have had boyfriends/girlfriends where the sex was terrific and ubiquitous, and it became our benchmark for erotic satisfaction once the relationship ended. But it ended, all the same.

Sex is a primal act that calls upon men’s most base nature. It’s actually worse than that: we need the parasympathetic hormones (“rest and digest”) to get an erection, but then we need the opposite sympathetic hormones (“fight or flight”) to ejaculate. Necessarily, we’re emotionally schizophrenic during sex, which is hard for us, because we’re already trying so hard to be decent people.

It was a much easier dance when we were in our twenties and got hard while walking through the bra department at Sears, but back then, the drug of sex simplified everything. In a marriage, however, there’s a lot to juggle.

We start each sexual encounter “making love”, but we can only have an orgasm when it shifts over to “fucking”, and then immediately we’re back to being in a bedroom with our lifelong compatriot. We go from being in an emotional jungle frenzy state to sudden domesticity. Married couples that have great sex do so by learning to solve this paradox.

I’ll throw something else in the mix: as men start to lose those old tomcat feelings you don’t understand, they also lose a swath of their identity. Who are we, if we aren’t ravenously titillated by the mere idea of schtupping everything in sight? Yes, it gave us years of endlessly stupid decisions made at the end of endlessly stupid nights, but the chase was divine.

I’m not going to speculate about what happens to a woman’s sexual identity when she goes from nubile teen to confident fellatrix to monogamous to pregnant to breastfeeding to exhausted (to name but one road she can be on), because it’s beyond my pay grade and many of the women in the comments section do a much better job. But the point of all this is simple:

SEX IS NOT A NO-BRAINER. FOR ANYBODY. AT ANY TIME. It is a delicate dance, and it’s easy to fuck up. And you don’t have to be married to ruin your sex life.

We’ll get to the “having kids” thing tomorrow, and I’d love to know your thoughts on Friday’s comments. But a few things stand out as true right off the bat:

• Lindsay’s brother is oddly correct: “as long as ya’ll are getting’ some, you can work everything else out.” (luckily, the opposite statement is NOT true)

• Neva also speaks wisely: “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

• Sex becoming less important does not mean you are settling, your heart is dying, you have lost all your passions, and you have ceased to mean anything. It just means that sex has become less important.

• Nobody is doing it right. At best, some people are doing it about 85% awesomely.

• There is a fundamental lack of communication between spouses/partners because we fear we’ll destroy them with the truth.

• Despite all the drawbacks, despite our inner damage, our hangups, our tame/savage bifurcation… even though it all looks so bleak from the cheap seats… most marriages are absolutely worth it and richly deserve a toast.

>clink!<

move a bit to your left

3/11/10

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Well, this blog just writes itself, don’t it? I’ll go along with the suggestions mentioned yesterday:

How often (times per week or month or year) do you have sex, as you define it?

What are you and your partner’s ages, and how long have you been together?

What does it lack, and what do you want? (be as specific or graphic as necessary)

What is awesome?

I’ll ask that everyone go with anonymous animal names, and be truthful with yourselves… write what actually happens, not what you wish would happen, or what in reality happens very rarely. Hopefully this can go beyond titillating and actually be educational, as these sorts of queries – however informal – are notoriously hard to pull off.

Remember to put zebra@zebra.com (or whatever you choose to be) in the “email” field as well. Okay, get it off your chest! (as it were)

u know the one, dr. everything’ll be alright

3/10/10

A few thoughts about the last couple of days’ worth of comments… in no particular order, here are some basic phenomena I’ve noticed from keeping my eyes and ears open around relationships for the last 20 years. These are by no means chiseled in stone, and there are massive exceptions to everything, but I’m amazed how often they keep happening.

1. When women are done, they’re done. Most women I know give their mate/boyfriend an inordinate amount of slack, but when they run out of patience, a binary switch is flipped, and the light is snuffed out. By the time the big guns are called out, it’s usually too late: she has emotionally moved on, whether or not she’s done so physically.

Guys can fall back in love, they can be “scared straight” by a health issue or a brush with their own mortality, and come running home. Men can cross to the other side, scorched-earth territory, then have an epiphany that brings them back. Women, to their credit, may sometimes find they still have a tiny spark left, but usually can muster only pity (and silently, disgust).

This is a cautionary tale for husbands who spend too long depressed without getting help, or allow a festering problem to ferment – anything that places an unequal burden on the spouse. You have time to fix yourself, but just because you can’t hear the chimes doesn’t mean the clock isn’t ticking.

2. A bad deal is bad for everybody. This is a famous quote from our lawyer in New York, a guy who went to high school with Tessa and is kind of a savant. In his experience, a legally-binding deal that screws over one party always – eventually – ends up being bad for the other. This isn’t about karma or anything new agey, it’s about brass tacks, and he’s seen it time and time again.

I find this corollary works in relationships, too – when one person is a problem (or has a problem) and this behavior is being enabled by the good graces of the other partner, both are fucked. The person with the problem never gets help, and the person putting up with it eventually collapses under the weight of their own resentment.

This resentment, by the way, rarely comes on gradually. More often it erupts like Krakatoa, waves and waves of furious lava that the enabler never even knew they had.

3. Changing the oil won’t offend the car. I had the same eye-rolling antipathy for couples therapy that many guys have before they go… I mean, isn’t that for people that hate each other and want to cut the dog in half? Besides, as a guy, doesn’t that just mean “sitting in a stranger’s room to be berated by the same person who does it at home?”

Let me tell you: I am the world’s biggest defensive wounded-child prick on earth, and it was nothing like that. It may take you a few times to find the right person, and a few sessions to get in the groove, but it’s so absolutely worth it. Most therapists know how to gracefully sidestep the “husband thinks they’ll be put on trial” problem, and it ceases to be an issue.

And the important thing to remember is this: you are not indicting your marriage by going to couples’ counseling. You are simply changing the oil and checking the fluids. Tessa and I have a fantastic relationship, a partnership that amazes me each day, and we still occasionally go.

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4. The world’s most common fight. Tell me if any of this sounds familiar: woman is frustrated because the man doesn’t seem to take her seriously, and despite big words about sexual equality, he never really pulls his weight around the house. If they have kids, he occasionally lapses into “Fun Dad” and routinely flouts the structure painstakingly put in place by the Mom.

The man complains she’s being a wet blanket, but then he mysteriously disappears when she has to clean up the mess or deal with the kid acting out. When they fight, he easily forgets what they were fighting about, and usually ends up wanting sex, when by that point, the woman is full of resentment and fatigue.

For his part, the man is frustrated because he can seemingly do nothing right. He feels constantly monitored, and perpetually presented with a laundry list of shit he didn’t do, didn’t do right, or basic flaws in his character. He feels undermined as a parent because the mother seems to have a headlock on Parenting, which forces him to puncture the status quo to have any relationship with the kids.

He wonders what happened to that awesome chick he fell in love with all those years ago, the one who liked having sex, and yes, he occasionally goes for long drives and drinks with friends just so he can have a few moments where it’s not so frickin’ dire all the time.

I bet if you take away the couples who are in therapy for something specific (an affair, a family trauma, etc.), you are left with 75% of folks dealing with some variation on the theme above. Occasionally you can swap the “husband” and “wife” pronouns and it’ll hold true. Either way, it’s the same old shit that happens while dating – guy can’t/doesn’t have to get his act together, girl must force the issue because the stakes are higher – only this time, it’s writ large in the landscape of Marriage©.

It’s a shitty dynamic and relatively easy to fix, but again, you have to actually fix it. Otherwise your relationship starts resembling a fucking beer commercial, and then you should really just hit each other over the head with a shovel.

5. Nobody is who they were in 1989. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting to the age where some things in my life happened a LONG TIME AGO. Don’t worry, twentysomething lurkers, it’s mostly a good thing. But if you’re in a long-term relationship, and you’re looking for the person you knew fifteen or ten or even five years ago, that’s your issue, not theirs. You have changed too, and they’ve had to deal with it. Maybe you aren’t as attractive, maybe you’ve gotten slightly racist, maybe you repeat stories without knowing it. Typically, they’re doing the best they can with who you’ve become as well.

That said, you do get extra credit for trying harder. When we presented our case to our future mate, we sold them a bill of goods both present and future – and that “future” promised at least a modicum of fun. You are both owed that dividend. You are both owed some fun, and there are no takebacks, no erasies, and if you grow complacent and melt into inertia, you’re not allowed to be surprised by the outcome.

This is not the dress rehearsal, this is the performance, and we’re well into Act II. To me, the scariest part of Dante’s Inferno was the initial Gate of Hell, populated with those who “lived without infamy or praise” – the neutrals and waverers who lived in constant anguish because they had chosen lives of total inconsequence.

That always seemed unfair, so I had another explanation. To me, they were in Hell because they broke one of nature’s basic rules: they had not asked for what they wanted.

but he’s so nice

3/9/10

Yesterday’s comments were, as always, truly insightful and awesome. As I suspected, people were actually quite sanguine about “settling” for their day job, even if that meant settling for something you’d experience more often than your family. That kind of compartmentalization is truly a skill – one that I don’t possess at all – and probably makes you able to deal with a lot of things that would flummox others.

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I asked about the relationship “settling” because that subject has been on high rotation in the NY/LA literati echo chamber of late. Lori Gottlieb, a prolific 42-year-old New York writer who chose to raise a child without a partner/husband, wrote a book called Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough – largely borne out of the experience of solo parenting. The book set off a predictable firestorm of invective, especially from other women writers. Here’s Jessica Grose writing in Slate:

Gottlieb’s argument is that college-educated women in their late 30s and early 40s who are still single are without husbands because they were too picky when they were younger and more marketable… She is not benignly trying to share her experiences, she’s trying to scare women.

Perhaps the best takedown of Gottlieb – or really, the best ass-kicking I’ve read on the Web in months – comes courtesy of Liesl Schillinger, an old friend of mine and Tessa’s who writes with vitriolic flair:

The way [Gottlieb] sees it, a generation of women… were tricked by the women’s movement into “ego-tripping themselves out of romantic connection.” That’s right girls: If you’re unwillingly unwed, blame it on mom and Title IX for duping you into educating, respecting and supporting yourselves…

…[F]or anyone who dares order millions of people she doesn’t know to sell out their dreams, regret their accomplishments, fear their futures and “Marry him,” whoever he is, I have two words: You first.

Now let’s get something straight right off the bat: Lori Gottlieb did not write this book because she actually wants to set back the women’s movement or frighten 29-year-olds, she wrote it because she got a book deal. This is the way the non-fiction world works. If you have an idea that is compelling, salacious, vaguely relatable and able to piss off half of the Conde Nast building, you have a check waiting for you at your literary agent’s office.

But it’s not so easy to turn away from the book’s content, because the fact remains: there are a lot of successful, awesome, physically attractive, smart, funny women in their early 40s who are wondering why the fuck they aren’t married and why they now have to get sperm donation to have a kid. Lori Gottlieb wants you to blame them, which is not entirely inaccurate, but you know who gets off scott-free in this exchange yet again? That’s right: dudes.

Nowhere is there a book called “Stop Picking Your Butt: How Guys Need to Cease Being Such Emotionally-Stunted Babies” and there isn’t likely to be one. When women choose to spend their thirties drinking apple martinis and taking the Jitney to the Hamptons with no plans to settle down, it becomes the Tragedy of a Lost Era; when guys do it, it’s called “2003 through 2010”.

But here’s the rub… no matter what they tell you, a woman’s fertility starts being an issue after 36. Sure, you can often use cutting-edge (and expensive) science to give you a shot into your early forties, but that window eventually becomes an arrow slit. So if you want to get married and have kids, you really do have to hope this intersection occurs:

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To me, the worst thing about a book like Gottlieb’s is that her advice is impossible to take. Nobody in their right mind is going to marry someone they don’t love if there’s a .001% chance of meeting your soulmate in the next few years. The stakes of personal self-actualization are far too large (at least in self-oriented cultures like ours), and the promise of actual true love is far too inspiring to marry the guy you happen to be kinda dating.

A word about “settling”. I realize it’s a very charged verb, one that chafes against every movie you’ve ever seen, every novel, every dream you had for yourself in your teenage bedroom. And let’s be honest: for an 18-year-old guy, anything south of getting a blow job on the roof of a Suburban going 75 mph through South Beach while shotgunning a vat of Cuervo is “settling”. So our definition changes wildly as our wants. But it doesn’t mean that “settling” isn’t very real.

Here’s the sad truth… finding the love of your life (or even “a” love of your life) is akin to Dean Smith’s quote about winning national championships: you have to be very good, and very lucky. You have to be “good” enough to truly know yourself, get healed, salve your childhood wounds and mature into somebody who understands the glorious panorama and limitations of love.

And you have to be “lucky” enough to find somebody else who has done the same, and find them in your time. The rest is fashion.

the yak asks the marmot

3/8/10

Many of you may wish to be anonymous for today’s CODE WORD question, which comes in three parts. If you don’t use your name, just use any animal in the wild kingdom (so we don’t get “anon” through “anon53”).

1. Did you “settle” for the job you have now?

2. Did you do the same for your marriage or main relationship?

3. Is “settling” really all that bad?

let’s pretend this never happened shall we

3/7/10

A lot can transpire in a weekend, so I’ll just dispose of the “trying to tie it all together” trope and go with bold letters and numbering. Back in 1995, eye-tracking tests showed us “that was the only way people were going to read on the internet” anyway, so it shows you how much of a luddite I’ve remained by using long paragraphs. That is, if you actually finished this one. No offense taken, believe me.

If anything bores you, just skip to the next one. It’s Just That Simple™!

 

 

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1. The University of North Carolina Men’s Basketball Team – Because desire springs eternal (and we had won the last two games) I had the faintest soupçon of hope that we might pull off something special over in Derm on Saturday night, but this game was not only a disaster, it was a historic disaster.

We are not a school that “fires” a player who doesn’t turn out like we wanted – we don’t kick anybody to the curb, and in fact, Dean Smith always made it clear that seniority within the family was sacrosanct. This led to great moments like Vince Carter carrying Dante Calabria’s suitcases to the bus, and it engendered respect among recruits that pays dividends to this day.

However, there’s nothing wrong with asking a player if they’re happy with the system they chose to join, and if my instincts are correct, two or three guys on our roster may be happier elsewhere. Because this team bears no relation to any Carolina team I have ever experienced, with the exception of a few lost years around 2002.

Then, as now, there is a fundamental lack of giving a shit, and it has punctured a hole in the hull. The fan base is divided by recrimination; on one side, you’ve got the “it’s all Coach Roy Williams’ fault” and on the other is “the players lack talent and personal motivation”. I’m inclined to view it as a little of both, but I will not suffer the kind of bullshit hurled at Roy.

Yes, he refers to himself in the 3rd person, yes, his so-called Huckleberry Hound demeanor can inspire the occasional eyeroll, and compared to the inscrutable granite mountaintops of Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge, he can seem downright unhinged. I’ve also bristled at the way he talks about some of the players, and he is not a master at making mid-game (or mid-season, for that matter) changes when the status quo seems to be tanking.

But he has also brought home two national championships – one from a set of seniors that had gone 8-20, and the other from a group of kids who had been kicked in the face the year before (and probably didn’t even get along that well). He is a deeply good guy, and I feel like I understand him, his longing for something ineffable, his inappropriate sadness. This is the other thing I know: he can coach, yell, motivate, cajole, psych out, ingratiate, draw plays every waking minute, but if the guys don’t care, none of it matters.

My immediate almost-post-mordem on this season? It doesn’t take much for a group of 18 to 20-year-olds to lose their collective shit. Ask anybody who has been in a failed fraternity. A couple of injuries, a loss of confidence, a lack of communication, and then gangrene sets in. Two non-senior players will leave. Everyone’s reputation takes a hit. Next year will be a nice rebuilding year. We have to work to get the mystique back, but it will return.

 

 

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2. The Oscars – I’m going to admit something here: I’m beginning to not like movies very much. I still enjoy the act of going to the movies immensely – popcorn, the great seats they have here in LA, talkin’ shit to th’ wife – but I have not been emotionally engaged by a film in a long time.

Previously, this was the work of Prozac, which is why I yanked myself off it in the late ’90s. But this is something else. It reminds me of what my mom started saying about mystery novels: she knew the ending of the book by the middle of chapter two, and then just started going through the motions.

Nothing’s worse than a person who refuses to join you on an emotional adventure, especially when you really want them to feel the same things you did… it’s like sharing a favorite album with a new girlfriend and getting the “meh”. But worse than that is the desire to be taken on a journey and being unable to hop on the bus everyone else is on. Because when you see the bus, you say to yourself: oh yeah, I know this bus. It goes in a circle.

I was really engaged by one film in the theater this year, and I don’t expect anyone else to agree: I thought “District 9” was amazing. The lead character was so off-kilter that I was stunned at his transformation, and the delicate ballet of violence and peril was heart-pounding without being merciless. I actually wanted the lead character to find his way back to his wife, I actually cared about the alien father and son.

As for the rest of these movies, I don’t know, it all seems like inside baseball, ambiguousness dressed up as Defining Statements, and a lot of people looking at each other waiting for something to happen.

And this comes at a time when we’ve been told to start writing movies. I just hope Tessa doesn’t get frustrated with me as I work my way out of this ennui. Right now, I’d rather write the churning mindfucks of great television, because something about its crassness seems more honest. Perhaps it’s just a phase I’m going through, n’est-ce pas?

 

 

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3. Being sick – On Thursday morning last week, I woke up with the horrifying realization that something terrible had just happened to my lungs. Lucy had had the croup the week before, and my brother Steve had an awful cough, but this had surely been too long an incubation period, yes?

Didn’t matter. Every intake of breath felt like I was inhaling butane lighter fluid, and I was feeling ghastly, like “take me to the hospital” bad. In my delirium, I managed to get in to my ENT, who looked upon me with pity and professional interest, because I was as bad as anyone he’d seen in a while and said I had bronchitis and the beginning of pneumonia.

I’ll spare you the details – and this is mostly for my family, just in case my mom caught it while she was here – but I will list exactly what had to happen:

• immediately tested for flu and went on Tamiflu

• went on giant Augmentin antibiotic horsepills

• got worse the next day, so received cortisone steroid shot delivered in an elephant tranquilizer needle (or at least it seemed like it)

• also got a intramuscular shot of an antibiotic (Rocephin, I think)

And guess what? I got better. None of the usual 7-day yin-yang of misery, better days, dashed hopes, 2 weeks of lethargy, all that shit. Got it early, nuked the fuck out of it, back in business.

I don’t know what the lesson is here – don’t wait to treat illness? A well-placed steroid trumps everything? A quick anti-viral actually works? But man, it feels good. I might even write a longer-than-normal blog.

some of us are looking at the stars

3/4/10

Given the misery of Oscar Wilde’s final years, he might have found some solace a hundred years later, as Republican lawmaker after Republican lawmaker was revealed as a self-hating, closeted homosexual. In Wilde’s day, it was the Marquess of Queensberry and other homophobes attached to the Crown who sent him to jail for “gross indecency” – in our day, it is Mark Foley, Richard Curtis, Bob Allen, Ed Schrock, Larry Craig, Ted Haggard… and now we’ve got another one.

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California State Senator Roy Ashburn was stopped by a state trooper last night, and… well, I’ll let one of the CBS news affiliates fill in the blanks:

CBS13 reports that Roy Ashburn, a married, Republican state senator from Southern California with a history of opposing gay rights was arrested for allegedly driving drunk after leaving a gay bar with another man in the car.

The gay bar was called Faces, which is about the only funny thing in this whole story. This is a Republican who has voted against every gay-rights issue put before him, including anti-discrimination laws. These closeted conservatives baffle me – if you were to put their story in a TV script, it would get network notes saying “uninteresting reveal” and “too on-the-nose”. Can we please just have Republican Gay Amnesty Day, where all of these poor bastards are allowed to come out on a papier-mâché float with “Ask” by the Smiths blaring over a loudspeaker?

It’s just so ugly, seedy, unsanitary and chock full of lies and self-hatred. Compare that to one of my oldest friends in the world: Hampton, who married his partner (of many, many years) Christopher two days ago when the District of Columbia allowed same-sex marriage. Hamp works for the National Park Service doing historic preservation of important buildings, and managed to be one of the first people in line:

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Christopher and Hamp

THAT is how it’s done, y’all. Two sane, wonderful, grown adults engaging in the same solemn and joyful pact the rest of us get to. Congrats to Hamp and Christopher, may they age together and age gracefully. To think anyone would have a problem with a union so perfectly natural. As Wilde said, “those whom the gods love grow young.”

faith was nice, hope was cute, charity was hot

3/3/10

For all my griping, I was asked which charitable organizations I use, and that’s a fair question. We do a lot of research in this area (percentage that goes to aid vs. overhead, effectiveness, etc.) and here are the three places we’ve done most of our giving lately.

The Girl Effect

I love these folks, and the videos absolutely destroy me. You might have seen these around, but having spent time in Africa and being surrounded by incredible women, the Girl Effect is near/dear to my heart:

 

 

 Mercy Corps

With some trusted Carolina alums in the infrastructure, and helping just about every troubled place in the world, MercyCorps is probably the most fantastic no-brainer charity currently running. They do everything and they do it well. We support their Partners in Mercy program, which delivers aid immediately to areas that are suddenly destroyed (given the last few months, we’ve doubled our contribution). Check it out!

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 Dana Farber Cancer Center/Jimmy Fund

The third charity is right here in the States – we give to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, more specifically the Jimmy Fund, one of the world-leading research facilities fighting children and adult cancer. Because, you know, it’ll be nice to know how everything turns out, and cancer is bullshit. Decades from now, we’ll look at cancer the way we now look at bloodletting – some barbaric, quaint phenomenon of bygone ignorance.

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Please add your favorite charities!

and you’ll have things you’ll want to talk about; i will too

3/2/10

So yesterday I wrote a profanity-free response to a religious issue, which for me, took a lot of motherfucking restraint. And yet again I am not called out for my content, but my delivery. Perhaps a few of you, who number among my favorite people on the planet, have a profound misunderstanding of my responsibilities around here: my duty is to be an asshole, not win hearts.

There was a time when minds could be changed, when differing philosophies could find common ground, and when conservatives didn’t view nuance as a mortal threat to their testicles, but that time is long gone. When you’ve got entire news organizations, gargantuan AM radio listenership, and nearly half of Congress all in lockstep with Crazy©, I’m flummoxed as to why I should show any restraint.

Does that make me as bad as they are? Am I “held to a higher standard”? Should I calmly explain my positions in the hope that minds might sway? I’M SORRY, BUT HOW HAS THAT BEEN WORKING LATELY?

There are two things the last decade has taught us: 1) Nobody is coming to help you, and 2) Bad ideas and bad people spread like cancer, and there’s no negotiating with them. Liberals, leftists and progressives have spent decades with their lips quivering over their pottery wheels, their delicate sensibilities offended by the bullies outside their meditation yurt.

In the meantime, they let conservatives start war after war, take away basic civil liberties from gays in the name of Christ, put mentally retarded inmates to death, robbed us of the polar ice cap, and giggled while fomenting a populist rage among slightly-unhinged white people with guns.

Are all conservatives onboard? Do all evangelical Christians follow suit? Of course not, but you wouldn’t know it based on their respective ideological movements, and I haven’t got the patience to draw shades of gray for a group of people not willing to do the same. They write fire, I will write fire back. They will spread their disease, I will spread mine.

The time for incremental change through subtle means is over, as is the time for enduring shit you don’t want to take anymore. If a group of Christians is doing something I don’t trust, I’m going to fucking say something about it. If Republicans are trying to take control of my daughter’s womb, I’m going to go apeshit. My makeshift raft here is tiny, compared to the pounding slave ships of Coulter, Malkin and Beck, but ’tis mine.

I’m not expecting to change policy, and I’m content to be “part of the problem”. Everyone needs a place to vent their furies and frustration, and this one is mine (and yours, should you choose to do so). I will not apologize for the sloppiness and size of my paintings here in my leftist art hut; this massive brush is all I have left in the quiver.

1st stones for throwing, only $1.99

3/1/10

Okay, I’m trying to be nice, I really am, but I just read Nicholas Kristof’s column in the NYTimes (thanks to my friend Catherine in KS) about how a growing number Christian evangelicals are “acknowledging that to be ‘pro-life’ must mean more than opposing abortion.” He goes on to mention how World Vision, a Christian group, is the world’s largest international relief and development organization, and then quotes liberally from its leader’s upcoming paperback book.

All well and good, but it’s going to take a lot more than careful introspection and foreign aid to convince agnostics that Evangelicals have every American’s best interests at heart. Nowhere in the column does Kristof mention the death penalty, which to many of us is the prime hypocrisy of religious anti-choice zealots. Their second major hypocrisy is the constant, shameful vilification of homosexuals, which I would also consider the antithesis of Christ’s teachings.

What gets me the most is the last section of the column, where Kristof actually says, “A root problem is a liberal snobbishness toward faith-based organizations.” First of all, if it weren’t for liberal snobbishness, we wouldn’t have civil rights, women’s suffrage, unemployment insurance, public education, Medicare, child labor laws, and the “weekend”. Liberal snobbishness is not a flaw, it’s a defense mechanism against what we perceive to be the cruelest, most backward people on the planet.

Secondly, if you don’t understand why progressives and/or agnostics have deep, pulsating veins of mistrust for organized Christianity… brother, you haven’t been paying attention. We think it’s great that you evangelicals are feeding orphans in the Congo and building clinics in Uganda. We just think that while you’re at it, you can stop influencing elections that objurgate gay people, quit your love affair with the death penalty, end your abstinence campaigns that drive up teen pregnancy and disease, keep your hands off women’s reproductive organs, and STAY OUT OF POLITICS.