Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Is Victor Navasky Lying?

A journalist discussing a person crucial to his narrative leaves out important facts that define the person and explain the narrative. How do we look at this?

This is the case with Nation Publisher Victor Navasky's new book, A Matter of Opinion, about his fight to save the journal. He says little more about Nation Editor Katrina vanden Heuvel's background other than that she "started as a Nation intern (from Princeton)." He scarcely vaguely alludes to the fact she's heiress to a billion-dollar fortune and is a member of Insider establishment clubs like the Council on Foreign Relations. Unmentioned is that, simultaneous with her sudden promotion to Nation's Editor from the ranks of the grunts, Katrina put up a sum of money to keep the struggling rag (losing staggering sums of money-- $500,000 a year at one point) from folding.

Navasky is very specific about amounts people like Paul Newman gave for the Nation. He glosses over Katrina's investment with the words, "strong expressions of interest from Katrina--." Say what??? How strong? Keep in mind that Editor vanden Heuvel is "designated" to take over from Navasky as Publisher also as soon as he's kicked out the door; I suppose just because she's so wonderful.

In assessing the size and motive of Katrina's financial contribution, we have the example of her billionaire mother, Jean Stein (George Plimpton's good friend), who bought lit-journal Grand Street from Ben Sonnenberg fifteen-or-so years ago and installed herself as Editor (then turned it into a tax shelter and received taxpayer NEA grants for it!)

To ignore the salient parts of Katrina's history is like portraying Ted Bundy as a personable young man, failing to mention he was also a serial killer. Is this lying? It's not telling the truth.

The bulk of Navasky's book contains his descriptions of sucking-up to rich people at places like Harvard. This is what constitutes being an "independent" publication in America. Navasky comes across as a well-meaning upper-middle class fool who's generally out-of-it (saw Gorbachev as a "radical"), clunking around through the world of his office and expensive lunches at Harvard and Columbia but not knowing what's really going on. Maybe he's being disingenuous. Or maybe he's just stupid.

NOTE TO ELITISTS: You're not going to get people like me on your side when you don't tell the truth!

12 comments:

AZ said...

And who can forget that Katrina vanden Heuvel went on Hardball and claimed she lived in Harlem.

Anonymous said...

As a teenager, I got a bad reputation with some of my friends and their parents for being a big liberal, because I tended to growl at them about their racism. (Well, hey, it's what I was, and still am.) I think I got that way because I was a bookworm. I especially read a lot of Science Fiction, and in those days a lot of SF talked about race issues, often in pretty clever ways. You might be in the middle of a story when you suddenly realized one of your favorite characters was black, or Chinese. Or a good story might talk about human intolerance of aliens from other planets, or vice versa, as a powerful allegory for racism. Barry Longyear's Enemy Mine is probably the one I remember best, but there were plenty of others.

I was also hugely influenced by Mark Twain's books. Most especially Huckleberry Finn, which is still one of the best damned books I've ever read.

Still, I remember with vividness and, yes, some affection, how those blue collar and middle-class white people in my neighborhood reacted when Harold Washington won the Democratic nomination for mayor.

You see, there are almost no Republicans in Chicago. They haven't had a Republican mayor in something like 70 years, and I don't believe there is a single Republican on the city council even today. There certainly weren't any when I was living there. So, everyone in Chicago just knows: whoever wins the Democratic nomination is going to be the next mayor. Period. Nothing else is really within the realm of possibility. Most would sooner elect Saddam Hussein than a Republican.

Thing was, Washington was black. In a field of well-known candidates, including a sitting mayor, he got just enough black and liberal white votes to give him a plurality to take the nomination.

The ripples were huge. All the people in my neighborhood were shocked. Yeah, sure, the Republicans would try to win with their sacrificial lamb candidate. But it was all over, and most people knew it. Washington was going to be mayor.

Fortunately, Harold Washington was one hell of a smart and strong man. He was also savvy enough to know that if he didn't reach out to white voters, and reach out to them seriously, his city would have all kinds of problems. There might well be major riots. White Flight was already plaguing the city even before he got into office, just as it was so many other cities back then. So Washington reached out, hard, to white voters, even white voters he knew hated him. He was also a good manager of the city, and avoided a lot of the mistakes that hurt cities like New York and Los Angeles in those days. By being smart and tough and strong, and finding ways to bridge some gaps, he was able to win over a lot of whites. He (mostly) refused to get involved in the "us vs. them" games that so many black politicians played then, and still play now.

I remember, with some amusement, how even some of the most racist people I knew said things like, "Yeah, he's a nigger but he's not bad."

Now you can sit there and get all shocked and appalled and wish people who talk like that would just die. You probably want me to go off on a rant about how horrible they were, too. And I did growl at them about it then. But Washington, and people like him, knew better: racist attitudes and racist language may die hard in some folks, but you can bridge gaps and work toward a better future more effectively by working with what you've got rather than what you wish you had. Putting a big chip on your shoulder and striking holier-than-thou poses feels very good, but it usually doesn't mean shit in politics. If anything, it only aggravates the problem, at least in a case like this. But if you do things right, if you find ways to reach out and get along, the younger generations, they'll be better than their parents.

Harold Washington died in office during his second term. That second term, he got a majority of voters, and not just a plurality. That's because he was a good mayor. I honestly think of him as the mayor who saved Chicago. Under him, White Flight actually petered out, and racial violence over time actually got better.

By the way, have I mentioned that of all the places I've been, Chicago's only the second most racist? The city of Detroit is worse, from everything I've seen. Almost no white people live there anymore, since the city's first black mayor, Coleman Young, went out of his way to drive them all out.

Now, just so you know, I've also lived in, and visited, much of the South. Got family and friends there. And let me repeat something I said earlier:

The south isn't all that racist anymore, hasn't been in some time. From what I can see, in fact, the most racist politicians down there are mostly black Democrats.

Anyway, to get me back to where I started with all this:

There's nothing wrong with bringing up southern racism. But people need to stop thinking of the world south of the Mason-Dixon line as the heart of racism in America. Most of the south has healed, except for some (some!) black folks down there who just don't want to get over it, and a small handful of (mostly poor) whites who resent the special attention that even wealthy black people get while poor and poorly educated white kids are treated like afterthoughts. Beyond that, for most folks down there, the boil was lanced long ago, and the healing's mostly done.

The south isn't the heart of racism in America. Indeed, I'm not sure it really ever was. Because while legal segregation may have existed there 30 years ago, de facto segregation, and racial violence every bit as bad and worse, has always happened in the north. De facto segregation was a way of life in all of America for 200 years, whether there were Jim Crow laws making it happen or not. In fact, a lot of people have pointed out that under Jim Crow, at least there were clear signs for what was and was not allowed, and everybody knew where they stood. In some place like New York, or Chicago, there were no such laws, no such clear lines. Which just meant that if you stepped out of line, your first clue might just be your fellow citizens beating the crap out of you.

Or killing you.

Ain't it funny how we have that word, "lynching," for when southerners do that stuff? But I gotta ask: is there any evidence that racial killings were ever--I mean ever--less common in the North? If so, I've yet to see it. Indeed, I'd be willing to bet that racial killings were more common up north 50 years ago than they were in the South. We just never had a word for it, and having the word makes it seem worse somehow. Why, I don't know. Because it shouldn't.

So, while I don't want to forget any of what went on down south--not any of it--I'm a little tired of the South being the nation's whipping boy on this, of it always being the first place we think and talk of when discussing racism.

I'm not picking on Baldilocks, because everyone talks about the South this way. Even I've done it. But seriously, the South needs to stop being the nation's whipping boy, and maybe we all should try to be aware of that.

- Leopold said...

Um, anon, what does that have to do with anything? As a teenager, did you also get into a bad reputation for being a plaigerizer?

If anyone wants to see the original source from which these comments are copied from another blog posted nearly two years ago & entirely irrelevantly pasted into this forum, go here:

http://www.deanesmay.com/archives/004918.html

Get a life, really.

Anonymous said...

'm a huge fan of professional wrestling. No, not the crap you see in the Olympics where two guys roll around on each other for points; I'm talking the greased-up, half-naked, steroid-injected wrestlers who like to hit each other with steel chairs. About a year ago I got the opportunity to work production for a little independent wrestling federation here in Cincinnati called Queen City Wrestling (QCW). My job basically involves hitting the music intros and ringing the bell. It's one of the few things I can do that make me feel like a kid again, instead of a 27-year-old with a mortgage, car payments, and credit card debt.

Saturday, April 16th, we had a show scheduled. I'm usually a procrastinator, but this time I got everything ready to go earlier in the day to keep me from running around at the last minute. As my wife and I sat in front of the television set, I saw a commercial for KFC and thought it sounded good for dinner before I left for the show. I drove two blocks and picked up some chicken and the usual side dishes for my wife and I. I scarfed three pieces of that greasy goodness down before heading out to the gym for my evening of wrestling.

I had been drinking the night before. And all day long I'd been letting out some pretty rancid gas. I took a crap earlier in the day, and thought that eating something would somehow stifle the gas chamber. Mistake #1.

I got to the gym to find out that I now had two production co-workers, Scott and Richard. They were both cool to talk to, and the extra help was a warm welcome to me. I went over the card with some of the wrestlers before the show, discussing spots, talking about who'd be winning and who was losing (sorry fans, but yes, it's fake). As I walked around the gym, I began to feel a pain in my chest. It was a pain I had never felt before, and putting my hand to my chest only made the pain worse. At first, I thought, "Heart attack?" No, I can't have a heart attack. I'm only twenty-seven, I don't smoke, I exercise semi-regularly, and I eat sensibly. That can't be it. I drank some water to try and calm myself down.

That's when they returned. The rancid gas started to churn within my gut and began to eek its way out amongst the crowd, which had begun to shuffle in by now. I've had this feeling before at our event nights and usually it's just my nerves acting up from anticipation. I always try to put on a good production, and once the show gets started, they go away. So I tried to fight them off, assuming they would go away once I found my groove. Mistake #2.

They would come in waves. As a fart bubble headed south, I tried to hold it at bay before it jumped the border. I fought back most of them, but a few of them managed to emigrate into the free world around my new co-workers. Oh man, they were rank; but I played it cool so as not to out myself as the culprit. It's just not the first impression I wanted to make.

Showtime was getting nearer and my farts were becoming ever-present. I tried to fight them off, but they only came back bigger and badder. I'd squelch one off, and he'd go back up into my intestines only to come back with some of his boys to gang up on me.

Then the cramps started. Oh shit, this hurt. It was just gas, right? I'd already taken a healthy crap before I left, so certainly I wouldn't have to shit again, would I? Of course not. Besides, I wouldn't want to crap in that toilet. Our shows are held at Spear's Gym, and it's really a boxing facility. We rent out half of the gym for the wrestling shows. Mr. Spears, the guy who owns the place, hasn't really kept the place up to code, so to speak -- the floor sinks in places, and the roof leaks, so you can just imagine how sanitary the bathrooms are. Fear of that toilet is what drove me to clench my cheeks harder and harder with every attempted breach.

Oh, but the cramps only got worse. I began to feel them in my sides, and no amount of water helped. Sitting down only increased the pain. I was beginning to sweat. I weighed my options. There's a pizza parlor and a bar on either side of the gym. Their bathrooms were probably more sanitary than Spear's Gym. I checked my watch -- ten minutes before the opening match. My fears had begun to mount. The ring announcer and commissioner were doing last-minute check-ups, making sure that we were ready to go. Meanwhile, my bowels were pleading like Ric Flair on his knees, begging for a time out. Unfortunately, like Ric Flair, my colon soon sprung to its feet with a cheap shot, catching its opponent (me) totally off-guard with a cramp that caused my ass to tap out in submission. I was going to shit, and if I didn't find a toilet soon, it was going to be in my pants.

I jolted up from my seat and tried to walk nonchalantly towards the men's room. It turned into a power walk as the cramping became more intense. I feared the worst. The bathroom has but one urinal and one toilet -- neither one of them are prison-worthy, but it was either in there or in my Wranglers, and I'd just bought these jeans a week ago.

I pushed the men's room door open and was greeted by a closed stall door. Fortunately (?) the stall door isn't a solid one. It has wooden slots, kinda like vertical blinds, so anyone can take a peak through the door to see if someone's in there. It's not for the Shameful, but as bad as these poop cramps were getting, I'd shit in the middle of the ring if someone put a toilet there. I peeked through and found it empty. My ass rejoiced by giving me another surge of pain and thirty seconds to get half-naked before Colonel Sanders ran wild on me.

I did a quick wipe-down of the toilet before sitting to (literally!) open a can of whoop-ass and pour it in the bowl. It only took one grunt to get momentum going, and it didn't stop for a good five minutes. Three healthy KFC-inspired logs found themselves down for the count as my ass was crowned the new heavy waste champion. I grabbed a handful of paper bag material thinly disguised as toilet paper and gave myself a good wipe.

To my surprise, the toilet flushed down a majority of my onslaught, but it left behind a brown swirled painting of such symmetry that Bob Ross would've been proud.

Hulk Hogan will tell you that the defining moment in his wrestling career was body slamming the eight-foot, five hundred pound Andre the Giant at Wrestlemainia III in front of 97,000 people. Steve Austin might tell you his moment was defeating Jake the Snake Roberts at King of the Ring in 1996, when he yelled, "Austin 3:16 says, I just whipped your ass!" For me, my defining moment was that warm April evening when Colonel Sanders attacked me from behind, only to find himself on the losing side of the bowl.

If you're interested, I'll be at our May 21st show in the sound booth; and ThreePly will be happy to sign autographs for all PoopReporters in attendance. You could also meet Greg "The Hammer" Valentine while you're there, but we all know who's autograph you really want.

Anonymous said...

"Oh come on, Jean-Luc!"

"Absolutely not! My second officer is not a sex toy!" Picard set his empty tea glass down and glared up at the omnipotent entity lounging atop his desk. Leaning forward with exaggerated thoughtfulness, Q cupped his chin in a large palm.

"Are you saying you don't think he'd be interested?"

"That is not the --"

"Because from what I can tell he seems to be interested in virtually everything." Bristling, Jean-Luc stood hastily and jerked at the bottom of his uniform. It was absurd, and he wouldn't stand for further discussion.

"Q, that is more than enough," he said sharply, feeling his exasperation rise when the entity seemed unaffected. Q cocked his head and tapped at his full lips with a long finger.

"Have you even considered the possibility that he might find it a valuable opportunity to learn about human sexuality?"

"Have *you* considered the possibility that you might simply be insane?" This was ridiculous. Q was in his own world. The man passed a hand over his scalp and started into the bedroom area of his quarters, knowing that Q would follow him even before he heard the soft thump of the entity's booted human feet hitting the floor in front of his desk.

"I must be if I'm trying to have fun with you around, Jean-Luc. Talk about a stuffed shirt!"

"Q," Picard grunted, stopping so abruptly in his stride that the entity almost ran into him. Reaching for the fastenings at the collar of his uniform, he went on with a helpless gesture. "Last night I sang Ave Maria, naked, with little chocolates dangling from my nipples. If that's not amusing enough for you, you should have stayed with Vash." Frowning, Q skirted around to watch him shrug out of the red and black top.

"Vash is a cow. What are you doing?" Calmly, unmindful of the entity's scrutiny, Jean-Luc peeled away his Starfleet trousers so that he stood naked except for a pair of gray uniform briefs.

"What does it look like I'm doing? I'm getting ready for bed."

A pause, and then:

"Aww, my Johnny isn't jealous, is he?" Q batted his eyelashes and drew large, warm hands over Picard's bare chest. The man tried to hold onto his indignation, tried to pull away, but Q's hands on his skin did all sorts of gooey, tingly things to his stomach.

"No," he sighed at last. "Of course not." But he was, sort of. Not of Data, of course; he knew his lover's interest in the android was pure sexual whimsy. There was a level on which he would always be jealous of Vash, though. In a way, she was a free-spirited, unfettered Jean-Luc Picard, and there were times when Jean-Luc wasn't sure why Q preferred him to her.

"I didn't think so," Q murmured, threading his arms around Picard's shoulders and leaning in to place soft, full-lipped kisses along his jaw. Feeling vaguely annoyed with himself for being so easily manipulated, Jean-Luc returned the entity's embrace, shivering slightly as his cock came awake inside his Starfleet briefs.

"I still don't think propositioning Data is appropriate." The man braced himself to feel Q pull away in irritation, but the entity went on nuzzling him, humming a bit as he licked at Picard's earlobe.

"It's not like you're going to seduce him --"

"Me?"

"We. We're just going to politely ask him whether he wouldn't be interested in a night or three of intensely hot, omnipotently enhanced mansex, the like of which he might never again have the opportunity to experience." The mental image Q's throaty whisper conjured up for Jean-Luc made him feel light-headed, and he exhaled gustily as the entity bit down on his bare shoulder.

"But I'm his superior officer," Picard breathed, barely aware that his lover was maneuvering him toward the bed with groping hands. His knees welcomed the excuse to buckle when Q pressed lightly at his shoulders, and soon he was kneeling on the floor, head bowed, with his elbows resting on the bed. "It wouldn't be... It might seem..."

"You outrank everyone on this piddly little spacebucket, Mon Capitaine," Q whispered into Jean-Luc's ear as an adventurous hand snaked down the small of his back to slip under the waistband of his uniform briefs. Picard groaned softly, and the entity stroked his ass as he went on.

"That doesn't mean you're not allowed to have any fun, does it? Riker outranks Troi, and you ought to see what they get up to when they think no one's watching. Imagine what hairy little ape children they would have!" Q was snickering, but Jean-Luc didn't want to imagine Will and Deanna having sex, and he didn't want to imagine what their children would look like. At that moment, all twelve of the man's still-function brain cells were busy telling his hips to raise and shift backward in an effort to entice or trick Q's naughty hand into slipping inside the entrance to his body. After a moment of hesitation, seeming almost like an afterthought, the entity complied, delving deeply with two slick fingers and making Picard groan and arch his back.

"Q..." Jean-Luc grunted, balling the bedspread in his fists as his lover petted his back and fucked him idly with one hand.

"The way you carry on --" came Q's thoughtful, unaffected voice from behind him, "or refuse to carry on, as it were -- you'd think there was a celibacy clause in the Starfleet Captain job description." Picard opened his mouth to say something, though he didn't know what, as all he could think of was heat and emptiness and need. When Q's fingertips brushed roughly against that spongy nub inside him, though, he momentarily forgot not only that he had intended to speak, but, indeed, who and where he was. "But let me tell you, Jean-Luc, there isn't. Most of your comrades can't get those four little pips off fast enough when a well-constructed off-worlder spends the weekend on their ship... and don't even get me started on the sordid hanky panky that goes on with the first officers..."

"Q! Damn it!" Jean-Luc's briefs were tight enough to be painful now, and soaked through with precum as the man fought to keep from humping the edge of the bed just to get it over with. The scissoring fingers stilled inside him, and Picard distinctly heard himself whimper.

"You know I'm right, Johnny."

"I..." A snap sounded from behind Jean-Luc and suddenly his briefs were gone, along with the entity's fingers inside him. He gritted his teeth against the pain of emptiness and waited for Q's cock.

Nothing happened.

"Q," the man ground out finally, "I'm ready. What are you waiting for?"

"Tell me I'm right."

Picard's mind reeled. He tried to understand what Q was talking about. Oh, yes. Data.

"I... I suppose a... tentative inquiry couldn't hurt."

And Q took hold of one of his shoulders for leverage, one of his hips for control, and took him.

Louis Proyect said...

I was a subscriber and contributor to the Nation in the 1980s but grew more and more alienated from it in the 90s as it began to suck up to Clinton. Last year I wrote an in-depth history of the Nation and discovered that the magazine was tainted from the beginning. You can read it here:

http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/american_left/tainted_nation.htm

Louis Proyect said...

I was a subscriber and contributor to the Nation in the 1980s but grew more and more alienated from it in the 90s as it began to suck up to Clinton. Last year I wrote an in-depth history of the Nation and discovered that the magazine was tainted from the beginning. You can read it here:

http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/american_left/tainted_nation.htm

Anonymous said...

I hate wearing new leather sneakers. They're just so white and obvious. Like putting a blue bonnet on a pig. Everyone notices. And having OCD, I simply don't like to draw unnecessary attention to myself. As a result, my attire has always been somewhat middle-of-the-road. Nothing fancy or flashy. Occasionally, though, I simply have to break in a new pair of sneakers. There's no choice in the matter. And whenever I do, inevitably I'll end up walking past some doofus who's just waiting to make the brilliant remark: "Hey, new sneakers."
"A-hur hur hur. Good one. A-hur hur hur." I don't actually say this. But one day I'd like to.

It was around 1993 and I was working for a printing company. I had my own private office, one of several in the building. Most of the building was factory space, housing ten printing presses, a finishing area, and several shipping stations. Even though I was white-collar, I dressed casually on this job, since my position required me to spend frequent time in the factory. I wore mostly Dockers and sneakers, that sort of thing. Since my office was located closer to the factory than the sales offices, I generally used the men's room shared by the pressmen and factory workers.

That particular year the company was doing well and was desperately in need of more factory space. There was about two thousand square feet of unused office space flanking the factory restrooms. We had previously leased out this area, but the tenants moved out earlier that year and the space was just sitting there wasted. The owners brought in a construction crew to tear out the old offices, leaving only the restrooms standing. After demolition was completed, the two original restrooms sat smack in the middle of the enlarged factory floor, visible from all locations. As a shameful pooper, this did not sit well with me one bit.

It was summer and I had taken off the previous week from work. I came in Monday morning having forgotten there was demolition and construction going on. Had I remembered, I would have probably worn some old jeans and sneakers. I had on instead my new ultra-white Converses, fresh out of the box and gleaming.

"Hey, new sneakers." It was one of the sales assistants.

"Yes, Merilee. I have new sneakers. Thanks for noticing."

Dimwit.

As I entered the factory, I saw the construction crew hard at work framing out the new space. They were loud and boisterous. Because I'm such a neurotic, I tend to avoid loud people. So I headed straight to my office and planted myself in front of the computer, content to remain there as long as possible.

All that morning I had a bad case of wet farts. They were pretty noxious and my office wasn't well ventilated. So I had to go outside a few times to release them. My office had an emergency exit that opened to an overgrown weed patch behind the factory. It was private and the perfect place to vent ass-gas. There was a lean-to shed ten feet away that housed several loud compressors. This spot was one of my safe havens for the two years I worked in this location.

By 11:30 that morning it became apparent that was I going to pay dearly for my weekend of drinking and excess, not to mention the three-egg, bacon and cheese hero and triple latte I'd had that morning. Normally when I felt a bad boy coming I would actually drive home to use my own bathroom. I only lived ten minutes away, and for a shameful pooper that was a small price to pay for my peace of mind. Unfortunately, liquipoo waits for no one.

I put on a casual air as I walked through the factory toward the men's room. Meanwhile, the pressure in my colon was building to intolerable levels. Naturally, I was anxious, and I offered a silent prayer that nobody was inside the lone stall. My only alternative was to run back to my office, out the emergency exit, and shit in the weeds. I actually kept a roll of toilet paper in my desk drawer for just such an emergency.

Thankfully, nobody was inside the men's room. I burst through the stall door, dropped my pants, and started to spray. Holy crap. Whatever it was that spritzed out of my crack could have been used to remove graffiti. My butt felt like it was spewing sulfuric acid. I could feel the flesh dissolving inside my o-ring. Thoughts of reconstructive surgery and butt catheters ran through my head as I blasted out the remains of my last three meals, two of which I couldn't even remember. When it finally ended, I found myself sweaty and panting. I was sure there was a hole in my colon the size of my fist. I had no doubt I was bleeding internally; I was afraid to look inside the bowl. I wiped my butt and it was like trying to clean up a quart of spilled grease with a napkin. The toilet paper roll was about to become history.

As I finished cleaning up, I sensed the worst was yet to come. All of a sudden, a warm current wafted up to my face, coating it with an oily residue. Before I could make a move, an enormous stench-bubble had encapsulating my body from head to toe, like a monster jellyfish consuming it's prey. Normally I'm immune to my own stink, but this was a new species altogether. It smelled like a truckload of egg salad had been left outside for days in the sun, along with a few dead possum. The intensified odor of sulfur and rotted flesh created an acrid vapor that caused my eyes to well up with tears. The membranes in my nose burned as if someone had stuck a hot poker up there. I gagged and retched as I sat there in my own filth, scratching desperately at the air and gasping for oxygen.

At this point it occurred to me that I was in a potentially humiliating situation. I had to sever any ties to this beast before anyone could connect me with it. That meant getting out of there fast and putting as much distance between us as possible.

As the entity finished consuming the rest of the oxygen in the room, I quickly used up the remainder of the TP roll and flushed the toilet. I was pulling my pants up when the bathroom door burst open. Several men walked in laughing over something. I instantly took them to be construction workers. Cursing my bad luck, I sat back down and froze in place. There was a pause, and then one of the men started to gag. Then the others joined in.

"Oh, my god. What the hell is that?"

"Holy crap. Are you all right in there?"

"Aughhhhhhh! Aughhhhhhh!"

My world began to crumble around me. As I sat frozen like a piece of granite, one of the three workers walked out, gagging and retching. His two companions made snide remarks about him in his absence, using words that called into question his manhood. (You know, things that had to do with the female anatomy and such. Apparently, in their world of sweat and power tools, anyone who couldn't stand a little shit-stink didn't deserve to be part of their exclusive club.)

They stepped up to the urinals and began a marathon piss contest that seemed to last the rest of the afternoon. Meanwhile, I sat there motionless in my prison of shame, waiting for the verbal abuse that was certain to come. A moment later, it started.

"Jeez, that's bad," one of them muttered to his companion.

Pure evil, both of them. My whole life up to that moment had been dedicated to avoiding encounters such as this. And now here I was, stuck in a vault with two tormentors and my own fecal stench -- which, by the way, still had enough life in it to kill children and the elderly.

"Ohhh, boy."

Each of these Nazi bastards had the bladder of an elephant. Their streams were endless, I tell you. It seemed as if there was an unspoken contest going on between them to see who could last the longest. As I uttered a silent prayer for them to finish up, time slowly ground to a halt. One of my worst fears was coming true, and these guys simply were not going to leave. Ever. They were waiting outside like the sentries to hell, preparing to strip me and lay bare my shame for all to see.

"Man, what did that guy eat?"

Will this infernal torture never end? By this time it had been nearly a minute since my heart had stopped. My brain was now starved of oxygen, and I could see flashes of light out of the corners of my eyes. A tunnel was opening before me and I saw my dead grandmother reaching out. I always liked her.

I didn't think things could possibly get worse, until one of the men came up with a nickname for me: "White-Sneakers."

"Hey, White-Sneakers. What was for breakfast anyway?" He said this casually, as if asking for the time. Then he squeezed out another endless stream of urine.

That was it for me. I had been tagged like an albatross. It was these infernal sneakers. They were a beacon that could easily identify me in a group of a thousand men. There was no escape for me. I knew it for a certainty. I sat there in stony silence, hoping for a miracle. Perhaps an explosion in the factory. Anything.

As I look back now, I realize I should have been cool about the whole thing. I could have easily called these two guys the f-word. They would have gained great respect for me and left me alone. Do you know what I did instead? I coughed. You know, one of those wussy, clear-your-throat coughs that announces to the world, "I'm vulnerable. Please abuse me."

Instantly one of my tormentors picked up on my shame. "Hey, White-Sneakers. Don't think you can hide from us today."

That's it. I was now a target. The synapses in my brain began misfiring. The room started to spin and the world around me sounded as if it was under water. Some sort of liquid sloshed inside my head. The mocking voices became deeper and slower, like a 45-speed record playing at 33 RPMs. They were casually plotting my downfall as they urinated.

"Yeah, White-Sneakers. I'd keep out of sight if I were you."

Flush. Flush.

"Har-har-har-har-har. Har-har-har-har-har."

After they left, I sat there paralyzed for another minute or two. Gradually my breathing and heartbeat returned. I had to come up with a plan.

One of the manifestations of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is extreme paranoia, especially when under duress. This is how my mind processed things: I was now officially "White-Sneakers: The Guy Who Stunk Up The Bathroom." I was positive the entire construction crew, along with all my co-workers, were waiting outside the door for me to come out. They were certain to be holding a banner that said "Welcome Back, Shit-Boy." Of these things I had no doubt.

At this point, any escape plan had merit. I actually toyed with the idea of squeezing through the ceiling vent. Really. I didn't even care if I died inside the walls. My poop-stench would have probably covered over the gases from my rotting corpse anyway. Or, I could just stay in the bathroom all day until I was sure everyone had left. Believe me, I'm perfectly capable of doing this. I would simply stand in front of the sink and pretend to wash my hands until five PM.

But it always came back to the sneakers. Those cursed sneakers. They would stand out like two surfboards strapped to my feet. Everyone would know for sure. No doubt word was spreading even as I stood there. I was certain of it.

Five minutes passed before I finally gathered the courage to peek outside the door. I cracked it open a half inch and couldn't believe my eyes. I was in the clear. Most everyone had left for lunch. I was genuinely mystified. I skulked past the few remaining factory workers and practically dove into my office. Then I snuck out the emergency exit and walked around the back of the factory toward my car. I arrived at my home ten minutes later.

"What are you doing home?" My wife asked.

"I forgot something."

"What?"

"Nothing."

Five minutes later I drove back to work wearing my old brown work boots. Am I sick, or what?

Jeff Potter said...

What a moron you are---do you really think you can stop the ULA *as a nothing*? With nothing to say, no argument, no attack, no substance? By being WRONG about everything? By having NO TALENT? By supporting losers? That's not how it works. An anonymouse has never done a thing. They simply don't register! Posting a bunch of padding...that's nothing! You have no effect! Well, I suppose that's natural, since you don't exist. You lose! By definition. One who sits and posts filler is a cipher, a ghost, worshiping and fawning over useless hacks----not able to offer up even a single defense. Your heroes need help, not padding! Time is wasting them away. They don't have legs. That's all. Give it a rest! When people try to prop up writers who have nothing to offer we just kick out the props and they fall. That's how it works! They're broken, you're broken...your padding can't help you!

Sebastian Morningwood said...

"When people try to prop up writers who have nothing to offer we just kick out the props and they fall."

That wasn't what happened when ULA members got ahold of the manuscript of the greatest masterpiece of the 21st century, "The Heat of My Pockets" by Orlando Hotpockets.

They read it and shat themselves at realizing someone had called the ULA bluff.

A retarded alcoholic who suffered a head injury knows how to "keep it real." The ULA just wants to be written about in Establishment papers like the New York Times.

King said...

It's unfortunate that press coverage is leverage in America-- is reality itself.
For underground writers wishing to compete against monopolies, attaining press coverage was necessary.
It's hard to argue that it didn't work. The press we received gave us a profile in the culture-- let people know about us. It presented us with a foundation that we're now building on.
At this stage the ULA is too strong, too existent, to vanish, and that's of course what really bothers the status quo.

answer-man said...

ps I'm having a little trouble sending comments so if I do it twice please excuse me and I apologize.