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<Rebecca Schuman>

10/25/06 12:00am

If interns and “pages” (which is Canadian for “intern”) didn’t want to have sex with their immediate superiors and mentors, they’d be called “employees.” Everybody knows that. It’s like the first rule of work. Well, the second, actually (Rule #1 is: No Fatties!). All I’m saying is that those L Magazine interns with whom I allegedly engaged in “inappropriate conduct” were all totally into it. I’m resigning under the pressure of the Stedman/Diamond “morality Gestapo” because I don’t want The L to lose the midterm elections to some piece of crap like the New York Press, but that doesn’t mean I admit any wrongdoing. As a respectable public intellectual and noted attractive pundit, it is my God-given right to do two things: fist-pummel the homeless for sport, and take advantage of nubile, well-meaning college kids who are naive enough to think that I am anyone remotely interesting.

You can’t blame them, though. I’m pretty hard to resist. There’s a reason you can only see half of my face in that picture. That’s because the rest of me is so frickin’ hot that you wouldn’t be able to contain yourself looking at it all at once. You can’t stare directly into the sun, and you can’t behold the entire Schuman. That’s actually what the interns here learn on their first day of “work,” which involves answering approximately 73 instant messages from me, all of which include the terms “old-timey cure for Hysteria” and “sucking Jonathan Franzen’s balls.” And they’re happy to do it (exchange lurid messages with me, that is; nobody likes sucking Jonathan Franzen’s balls, not even Jonathan Franzen). Take Timmy for instance, he’s been an intern here since he graduated from Stuyvesant and now he’s got a PhD in nuclear physics! Of course, he’s some sort of semi-autistic genius and he accomplished that feat in seven months; also he is legally blind and may have been under the impression that my nether regions are the next generation of “extra-responsive” Apple computers.

Nonetheless, I must remind my faithful constituents that despite my dalliances with interns (and groupies… and fiction-contest entrants… all right, fine, and their agents), I have never strayed from the sacred duty entrusted to me by this office. That duty has been to foist upon the reading public my poorly expressed neuroses about things vaguely related to current events and/or my negligible social life, and I have carried it out with dignity, courage and honor. When my kitchen counter was infested with mysterious pinchy bugs, or when Bush got re-elected, or when I decided yoga was for assholes, or Nietzsche was interesting, I delivered a self-absorbed stream-of-consciousness rant with no discernible purpose, despite the ones of hours it took me and zeroes of sacrifices I had to make! That, people, is dedication, and I still can’t believe the groping of a couple of Death Cab For Cutie fans would destroy my lifelong calling.

But alas, it has. Well, that and the paternity suits. And so, my beloved public of vaguely creepy guys in their late 30s (and no, I will still not go out with you), I hereby resign my post, disgraced but not discouraged from further inappropriate conduct in other, even-less-lucrative venues. Grieve, my beloved niche fan base of three, but do not despair, for I shall continue being a self-aggrandizing blowhard in the private sector.  And take comfort in the knowledge that I will miss you far more than you will miss me — and, of course, in one last glimpse of my stunning half-face.

FOOTNOTE™ brand citation method ®. This is a work of satire. Sexual harassment of the young is neither acceptable nor hilarious. Just ask disgraced Republican senator Mark Foley, whose exploits with a Congressional page are the fodder for this aforementioned work of satire. Everything in this column is made up, with the exception of Rebecca Schuman’s resignation, which is not due to harassment of interns, but to her unfortunate but extremely timely demise. Final words of adulation, belated notes of chastisement and useless requests for life coaching, along with naked pictures, can be sent in her memory to rschuman@thelmagazine.com.  •

09/27/06 12:00am

I have managed to tear myself away from the House, M.D. Drinking Game (drink every time it could be Lupus, drink twice every time there’s a computer graphic of someone’s disgusting insides) just in time to notice that it’s time for midterm elections. You have probably just emerged from the “Schuman Mentions House” Drinking Game [drink] only to discover the same thing. Like the exams they’re named after, midterm elections are overblown, underwhelming and exist mostly to provide sororities with an excuse to make stupid signs (“Rock UR midtermz _! Heart, _”). Except that by “Kappa Kappa Gamma” I mean “Big Oil, Karl Rove and George Soros” and by “stupid signs” I mean “the most ridiculous series of campaign ads since the last time there was an election of any sort, and if you haven’t bashed your TV in yet you are a either a masochist, watch TV for a living, or just love House that much, drink.”

Sure, there’s a chance the Democrats could regain one or two (or however many there are) houses of Congress, but, to paraphrase the Kappa Kappa Gamma sisterhood song, who gives a shit? Say Karl Rove reemerges from the primordial ooze having produced nine terrorist attacks, a serial rapist/murderer whose killing spree originated the day he was allowed to marry his homosexual life partner, and a dollar-a-gallon gas epidemic, and the Republican majority increases. Things continue as they are and the Apocalypse comes sooner. Mike Seaver and the rest of the faithful are sucked up to Heaven naked and the rest of us get seven years of blood-rivers and the reign of the Antichrist. The only bummer there would be missing the season finale of House [drink]. 

On the other hand, say Rove gets distracted at the Evil Genius PowerPoint Seminar and Fun Fair — like, they have a bouncey-bounce shaped like Hillary Clinton and he gets one of his legs stuck in it — and the Democrats take back the Senate. Now they’ve got two years of decision-making power and 2008 will come just in time to blame them for whatever Karl Rove cooked up when he finally freed his leg. Some racist deer-hunter jock will be elected President, and the Apocalypse will come approximately two and a half years later than it otherwise would. And what will we really accomplish in those two and a half years? Three awesome new pledge classes for Kappa Kappa Gamma? Leggings going back out and then coming back in again? God help us all.

Not to sound cynical or anything (cynicism went out with boot-cut jeans, and the jeans I’m currently wearing are so skinny that my ankles have the same “soft-serve ice-cream cone effect” as my midsection), but the outcome of the midterm elections gives us what dead critical theorists call a “false choice,” which is critical-theory-talk for “two options that suck.” Sort of like the recently-surfaced sex tape featuring the classy exploits of Dustin “Screech” Diamond: we have a “false choice” either to watch it (and develop the facial dexterity necessary to gnaw out our own eyes), or not to watch it (and spend the rest of our lives wondering if what they say about Jewish men is true and Screech is hung like Zack Morris’s old mobile phone). We can either vote for a Democrat, and hope the reclaimed Senate doesn’t blow its wad just in time for President Giuliani, vote for a Republican and hope we never have to explain what a “false choice” is to some 19-year-old PFC’s grieving parents, or not vote at all and get jealousy-induced heartburn every time we see someone wearing a little “I voted!” sticker with a little check mark on it. As Derrida once said, that’s like a choice between skinny jeans with zippers or skinny jeans with no zippers — and that’s no kind of choice at all.

09/27/06 12:00am

Remember that movie Crash? No, not the one where the guy has sex with a woman’s scar, the one where racist people have a series of poetically inevitable misunderstandings, and everyone learns something (I, for example, learned that pandering, mediocre movies could all use a scene where a guy fucks a woman in the scar). I love it when movies help me learn things, since all other methods of learning things via “art” are too much work.

The things you probably learned from Crash will last several lifetimes, so I understand it might blow your mind when I tell you that I recently saw a movie that taught me at least that many things (I would tell you how many things that is, but Crash didn’t teach me how to count, it only taught me that Chinese people are slave traders — and bad drivers). The filmic achievement of which I speak is Death Bed: The Bed That Eats.

Why nobody wanted to release Death Bed when it was made in 1977, and it is now relegated to “cult” status among “art snobs” like “me” who are “cooler than you” is beyond “me.” Just like Crash, the issues Death Bed deals with are wrenching and universal, and indicative of humanity’s paradox as both the most intelligent and most idiotic life form ever. I mean, don’t you hate it when your bed gets infected with the blood tears of a sad demon and then develops an insatiable desire for flesh, which itself is exposited by a tubercular ghost trapped in a wall behind a painting?!?!? I know, you’re thinking, ‘Wow, that is totally me.’ 

I also learned — and this is a very valuable lesson, so pay attention, damn it — that you should not plunge a knife into a possessed bed, because the bed will emit some orange bubble bath and strip the flesh off your hands, leaving you to lean melancholically against the wall contemplating your skeleton-fingers as if they were a particularly bland issue of People. I’m not really doing Death Bed justice here, because I can’t remove all cognitive and narrative abilities from my brain, and that is the defining characteristic of Death Bed: it is paced in such an inexplicable way that it tests the very bounds of human cognition. For example, there is a five-minute scene consisting of one shot where a woman pulls herself across a room with her arms, since the red finger paint on her fully-clothed legs would indicate that the bed has eaten their flesh. In the time it takes her to yank herself up four stairs, you go from thinking you must be high, to remembering that you aren’t high, to deciding you really have to get high and then going out into the “bad” neighborhood to buy drugs and encountering a bunch of highly complex ethnic stereotypes and having it made into Crash and winning five Oscars and she’s only on the forth fucking step!

Death Bed teaches us that the flimsy boundaries of “logic” and “reason” are as easily stripped away as the thigh muscle of a little crippled girl by a mattress full of angry stomach acid (the wall-ghost inherits the girl’s leg brace in a particularly touching scene). And this is something we must all keep in mind when Karl Rove — who himself is possessed with the tears of an angry demon — awakens from his demon slumber/Applebee’s coma and casts a voodoo spell on the midterm elections and the House and Senate are both taken over by the lead singers of Christian rock bands.

Even though right now it seems, deceptively, like humanity has a slim chance of survival, the immortal, people-eating bed that is the American theocratical-industrial complex must prevail. Don’t take my word for it — there’s a tubercular ghost behind my bed who’ll say the same thing. And he’ll simultaneously question and reaffirm ethnic stereotypes while saying it, so you know it must be true. 

09/13/06 12:00am

Dear Science,
Now that you nerds have taken appropriate time to mourn the unfortunate demotion of Pluto to “dwarf” (and just so you know, Pluto prefers “little planet”), I would like to nominate myself to fill the now-vacant position of Ninth Member of the Solar System. I am sure that after you have reviewed my experience and skill set (and taken my measurements), you will conclude that I am an ideal candidate to be launched into wobbly orbit in the questionable nether-regions of the solar system that even the solar system’s Brazilian waxer won’t touch.

First, let me congratulate you dorks on your noble and fearless decision to revise the canon, to “change our reality in the moment,” as a hippie once told my old boyfriend before accusing him of shoplifting (it turns out the hippie had rung my boyfriend’s purchase up 30 seconds prior, but just totally spaced). Revising the canon is something I often do myself — for example, when at age 20 I realized Objectivism was shallow quasi-literate bullshit disguised as soaring overwrought prose, I demoted The Fountainhead from “book” to “pamphlet.” When, only slightly older (but still too old not to be ashamed), I realized masturbating and weeping along to a trite guitar soundtrack did not equal instant awesome, I demoted Jeff Buckley from “dead” to “not dead enough.” And this year, I have exactly nine months to demote all German literature before 1905 to “extracanonical” or I will fail my PhD examinations, and my lifelong dream of joining the ranks of you dorks as a fake doctor will be crushed, much like your hopes of ever touching a boob were in 1985. That is why I am seeking alternative employment as the Ninth Planet.

As if replacing “Pies” with the much more aesthetic “Schumans” in the great elementary-school mnemonic were not incentive enough to rank me above the other candidates, I would also like you dweebs to know that everyone else gunning for this job is hideously unqualified. Just yesterday my chief competition, the U.S. government’s candidate, a monolithic lump of electric-car skeletons, told me it thought Snakes on a Plane could totally happen in real life, and that astronomy is for douche bags.

And electric cars don’t hate people — they love people so much they don’t mind shuttling them around on all their inane errands at no detriment to the beloved environment, thus simultaneously accomplishing the daily banalities of and staving off the extinction of what? Humanity, that’s what. Not only do I long to be millions of light years away from Earth and the humanity that roosts upon it, I seek to replicate physically my internal alienation from all life. You might think amoebas are harmless enough, but what if you rejects are right and Jesus is wrong, and the universe really is more than 5006 years old (ha!), and amoebas could get bored one day and grow legs and decide Dane Cook is hilarious?!? That’s not a risk I can take.

And you might think it would suffice for me to go live on the Moon, or one of the nearer and still-legitimate planets, but in the words of the great professional nerd and fake doctor Copernicus, “that’s not how I roll.” I, dorks, am what the humans call a “go-getter,” and when I see my dream job become vacant for the first time since 1914 (back when I still thought Objectivism was a reasonable evolution of Nietzsche), I have to go for it, uncompromisingly, fearlessly, just like Howard Roark would!!! After all, when Jeff Buckley made that Leonard Cohen song 12 minutes long and introduced “heavy breathing” to the musical scale, did he hesitate? No, to the immense relief of tattooed stoners the world over, he did not! So listen, dweebs, I’m ready. Revise the canon again! Let me replace Pluto! Please? Come on, I’ll even let you touch my boob, once, on my way out to orbit.

08/30/06 12:00am

I had seldom thought about my age until two summers ago, when a schoolgirl at a Vienna backpacker hostel demanded it. To my answer — “27” — she said “Fwüüüü!” which is German for “I am surprised your colostomy bag isn’t leaking.” Then a few weeks ago I was at a train station in Germany, and the Ticketfrau also asked my age to see if I qualified for a “youth” fare — apparently the Botox that Austrian schoolgirl made me get has paid for itself. To my answer, which was (unsurprisingly) “29,” she just kind of shook her head and glared at me, as if I were born in 1976 by devious personal choice, like a gay who hasn’t yet become an ex-gay in the glorious light of Christ (I can make such sophisticated comparisons because of the wisdom I have from being alive for so long).
It was a good thing I kept the entire truth from her, which is that I was 29 by a matter of a few insignificant weeks, soon to switch my Rascal scooter to “turbo” and zoom across that venerable decade border, leaving my twenties behind in a cloud of dust and Ben-Gay. In fact, by the time you have so little going on in your life that you decide to read this page, I will have “celebrated” my 30th birthday, or will perhaps be celebrating it right this second, drunk somewhere and picking up a 19 year old in celebration of our mutual sexual peaks (or so I’ve read). Perhaps you are that 19 year old, and still so psyched your fake ID got you into the Beer Garden that you haven’t yet noticed the aging pervert in your midst.

Either way, now that I’m back in America (sans deodorant and face powder, which were confiscated rather aggressively at the Düsseldorf airport as part of the liquid ban, despite one being a solid and the other, as you might guess, a powder), and busy following the example of our elected leaders and ignoring the carnage in the Middle East, I have nothing left to distract me from the ceaselessly pouring granules of the sands of time. My birthday has always depressed me, ever since I took my friends mini-golfing when I was 12 and had such a temper-tantrum at my lack of mini-golf skills that I made my dad weep with shame (which he is doing once again, after reading of my desire to pick up 19 year olds). That was topped, only barely so, by 23, the year my then-boyfriend decided to buy himself a new subwoofer for his computer speakers instead of splashing out for an $11 pierogi dinner at Odessa, and I spent the evening sandwiched between his friends, half-participating in an inane conversation about the genius of Steve Vai.

I don’t know what the rest of you do on your birthdays, but my birthday is a day for somber reflection — somber, drunken reflection, and a ruthless taking of my life’s stock. And despite the braying of Austrian schoolgirls and German Ticketfrauen, I don’t so much care about getting older as I care about… well, about Steve Vai, for one thing — that guy was a total fucking genius and I could listen to his 19-minute blues jams for hours! No, I don’t care about my birthday except that I’m supposed to care because it’s my birthday, and I don’t care about being 30 except that everyone seems to think that’s “old” (it’s when people have started telling me I’m only as old as I feel, which is something you only say to oldies), and I know that despite my dad’s mini-golf shame and a decade’s worth of bad relationship choices, I have had a mercifully easy life. To make this point, I would compare myself to some people in the Middle East, but that would involve watching the news, and since they confiscated my deodorant in Düsseldorf I don’t want to raise my arms to turn on the television. And besides, who has time for the news when there are 19 year olds to corrupt? NYU sophomores, o ye with your battered copies of L’Etranger and your “original” emo tortoiseshell glasses, I’m coming for you first. As fast as this Rascal scooter will go. 

08/02/06 12:00am

You’d think that a temperature system incapable of reaching triple digits would also mean that all temperatures it measures are incapable of being hot, but I’ll have you know that here in Europe they don’t believe in logic, and so even though the weather reports say it’s 33 degrees in downtown Prague, it’s not freezing AT ALL. Someone needs to tell these people that it is at least 100 degrees here, if not possibly 175. That and that someone invented an air conditioner back when Václav Havel was in short pants — and perhaps if the Commies had allowed Václav Havel to use that newly invented air conditioner instead of sticking him in jail, he could have worn pants of regular length. As it stands, however, whichever Václav is currently in charge of this country has some sort of beef with air conditioning, so I am left to attend Czech language school in outfits that would get me fired from FlashDancers but on the Prague tram make me look like an especially prudish babichka.

Not that our lessons couldn’t use a little spicing up. I don’ t know if you’re aware of this, but until you’re fluent in a language, all dialogue you have with anyone must be categorically inane. If you attempt to talk about anything other than what times of the day you normally eat horseradish-flavored whipped cream, they will lock you in a dungeon with fake medieval torture instruments which they then make you pay $23 US to view.
Learning a new language generally consists of stages not unlike the stages of grief. Instead of ‘denial,’ what you have is a kind of man-child honeymoon period, wherein you manage to memorize 17 words and say them in quick succession everywhere you go despite the context. “I would like a card for the telephone language,” you proclaim triumphantly to the woman selling subway tickets, or, “I am an omelet with one mushrooms and seven beers,” you yell desperately to the waitress after she flings a menu in your general direction. I’m making myself understood, you insist, though the only person who understands you is the you who lives in your inner monologue.

‘Anger’ is roughly the same, though instead of being directed at the recently deceased, your ire is flung haphazardly at an amorphous system of lexical indices and noun declensions. Two-year-old Czech kids have no problem deciding when to use the verb that means “to have visited someone, habitually, in the easily-recalled past, using some form of motorized transportation excluding a boat or a plane,” but I’m left standing on the precipice of the Nietzschean abyss wondering what constitutes ‘habitual’ or ‘finite,’ and the bartender wonders if I’d like to order something or just came there to cry in the corner (the establishments here contain equal parts of both people, obviously).

The obvious next stage is ‘Depression,’ and that is where I currently reside. There is no possible way anyone can learn to speak Czech — you can’t even say the words for ‘four’ or ‘closet’ with a human mouth, and even if I could, I wouldn’t know how to ask for four closets in the correct manner; I would probably just say “I am was being four closet” and then cry in the corner while little three year olds recited flawless Bohemian poetry. I am looking forward to ‘Calm Acceptance,’ wherein I realize that communication with other people is wholly overrated. After all, I am generally misunderstood in my native language, so why have unreasonable expectations in another one? Why have unreasonable expectations in any situation, like that a bar exists for any other reason except to cry in the corner, or that a day is capable of existing at a temperature bearable to human beings? I’m sure the Czechs have two verbs for the lowering of such expectations, and just as soon as I finish sleeping with this omelet town, I’ll learn them both.

07/05/06 12:00am

Every year in July, America runs out of men. For me, at least. Either I scare them off, divorce them, introduce them to one of my better-looking friends, talk them to death, exhaust them physically and emotionally to the point where they have to move back in with their parents, turn them into hippies or recluses, or accidentally poison them with termites. Well, that last one was actually an episode of House,M.D. but I wouldn’t put it past me.

Thus my only option this time of year is to spend a few months across the ocean, affecting the accent of whatever country I happen to be visiting and pretending to read The Man Without Qualities in the original German. That nobody has actually ever read Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften is irrelevant, because I only use it for arm curls, as a stepping stool to reach smaller books, and to pick up broody intellectual men on the train. Which, by virtue of me being a boorish, stumpy American galumphing through a continent of wispy cosmopolitan beauties, never, ever works unless I happen to catch a guy directly off the plane, before he has had a chance to absorb his leggy, cheekboned surroundings and ditch me for Katja/Jana/Elke and her seven sexually adventurous cousins. It helps if the guy has never seen any Europeans on television, or had any European exchange students in high school. Basically unless a guy is home-schooled and suffers from some sort of learning disability that prevents him from understanding supermodels when they say “American passport? I love sex,” I have no chance in Europe, with my fellow travelers or anyone else. This leaves me no choice but to sublimate my rage and frustration into scathing judgment of my fellow man. (Just like Dr. House — sweet, sweet House.)

Decoding the mating habits of Central Europeans, for example, requires the sort of eye for subtlety and endless hermeneutic patience normally reserved for trying to figure out how the fuck soccer works. As far as I can tell, Czechs, Germans and Austrians walk into bars surrounded by their ostensible “friends,” and then spend all night standing around in silence not looking anyone directly in the eye except when they toast before drinking. Approximately every three hours, the ghost of Khrushchev sneaks in through one of the beer taps and arbitrarily pairs a bunch of people off — they then leave together without a word, move in together, raise children without getting married and cohabit for 50 years without taking part in a single conversation with each other. Eventually the man dies and the little old lady spends the rest of her days following people around and whacking them with umbrellas.

Slightly more understandable are the sexual practices of vacationing American college students, many of whom spent their freshman years drinking nothing but Everclear and thus confuse Europe with Las Vegas. “Nobody here knows me or understands my language,” they seem to think, “so I can do whatever I want on my parents’ nickel with no accountability or consequences.” American sorority girls, for example, find it acceptable to have youth-hostel sex with other Americans within seven minutes of meeting them, and then to pee in the trash cans of those youth-hostel bedrooms while I look on in mingled horror and fascination and my traveling companions stop making fun of me for taking antibacterial gel wherever I go.

It is a good thing there is no room for me in this paradigm, as I am impervious to the matchmaking efforts of Khrushchev’s ghost and enjoy peeing in toilets and getting to know people sober. Besides, it is probably good for me to be alone for a while, give the men of the world a break. Oh, who am I trying to fool? Despite details of the space-time continuum, I am saving myself for Dr. House — and once he sees my nose in this copy of Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, he’ll be mine.

06/21/06 12:00am

Nietzsche once said that he who fights with monsters should take care that he doesn’t turn into a monster himself, and that when you stare too long into the abyss, the abyss stares back. Well, it was either Nietzsche or Ted Nugent. I don’t know, I was pretty drunk that night, and there were a lot of people there at Ann Coulter’s party, doing blow off Suicide Girls’ asses and celebrating the release of Ann’s new book, I Have a Vagina Full of Money. Or maybe it was called God Loves Mean Assholes the Most. Or Beyond Good and Evil and All the Way Back to Super-Evil. I don’t remember what the book was called. From what I’ve heard it’s pretty obscure and probably won’t even sell out its print run of five (especially since most of us got a copy for free, and I used mine as kindling to incinerate the foreign).

Anyway, as I said, we were all pretty fucked up. And thus, I don’t remember most of what Nietzsche/Ted Nugent said (it might have had something to do with pizza toppings — “I am not a sun-dried tomato, I am dynamite!” sounds a little familiar), but for some reason that bit about monsters and the abyss stuck. Unfortunately, it got me thinking — and since everyone else at the party was a Republican (except for Nietzsche, who considers himself a Libertarian, but I think that’s just the VD talking) and thus hates to think, it also got me lonely. And when I get lonely, I start taking stock of situations (again, I can see why my Republican friends don’t like thinking, because it sets off an unfortunate chain of events). And when I take stock of situations, I start seeing unpleasant things when I close my eyes, à la Julia Stiles in the remake of The Omen, who closes her eyes and sees footage of herself doing an astoundingly shitty acting job in a remake of The Omen.

Here is what I’ve been seeing lately on the back of my eyelids: a giant photo of the dead face of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on the front page of the newspaper, à la those sweet decapitated Westerner corpse photos Arab television likes to run sometimes. As if, first of all, offing one Al-Q mastermind and then putting his head on a stick à la Lord of the Flies (metaphorically… I hope) is the international warfare equivalent of Capture the Flag and the game is now over because our corpse photo is the corpsiest of all. And as if it were somehow the righteous thing to do, and that every time a homosexual looks at al-Zarqawi’s waxy dead eyelids he will be compelled to go to the Olive Garden and electric-guitar-pyrotechnic worship hour.

Because, see, when our side publishes a big corpse face, it is a legitimate, non-brutal act of freedom’s ultimate triumph, and Jesus himself is looking up from his video iPod with glowing pride. It is especially not a gesture semantically identical and thus arguably equivalently monstrous as anything their side would do to us — because, ok, calm down, I realize that al-Zarqawi was a bad, bad man, and that all the nice journalists and venture capitalists his buddies murdered were not. And I realize that most of Ted Nugent’s poetry blows and his moustache is ridiculous (or is that Nietzsche?), but he has a point. If you spend too much time with the monsters, what is to stop you from trying on a sweet pair of monster-sized stiletto heels (like the ones Ann Coulter wore on the cover of Time to accentuate her awesome man-feet) and deciding they look hot on you? And if you spend too much time staring at the waxy-lidded, lifeless abyss, how can you be sure that you’re outside it looking in, and not the other way around? What is happening to us? Ann Coulter, Ted Nugent, Nietzsche, anyone? See? Thinking is the worst.

06/07/06 12:00am

I’ve always thought picking on an easy target was in poor taste, and this is because as a child I was dumpy, uncoordinated, prone to crying fits, and had a predilection for knickerbockers and hole-ridden sweatpants (sometimes worn in concert). I would come home from school crying and my mother would feed me a bunch of well-intentioned communitarian 60s bullshit like, “Next time J.J. picks on you, you ask her why she doesn’t have anything better to do.” Why don’t parents remember that one of the cardinal rules of childhood and adolescence is that no kid has anything better to do than pick on another kid, ever? And the easier the target, the better.

Meathead children with disproportionate amounts of power and buried kernels of low self-esteem do not enjoy a challenge. And, contrary to what my mother always said, some kids never grow out of this phase — they grow up to be Republicans. They grow up to be i-bankers on the Upper East Side who play Quarters well into their thirties and brag about not owning a book. They grow up to be CEOs of the energy conglomerates. They grow up to be President. So the question arises: in that one time every decade when they hit a run of bad luck (and face it, we are too stupid or powerless to have had any marked effect on the Bush administration’s spectacular implosion or the Lay/Skilling convictions, so bad luck it is), what can we, the limp-wristed, feelings-sharing, Pansycrat wusses, do now that the tables are turning? Do we bathe in the healing aroma-therapeutic mineral salts of Schadenfreude?

We are above such poor taste. And so I have an idea. Listen, I think we should help them. They’re always going on about the Bible, and I’m pretty sure that book has fellow-man-helping stuff in it, so let’s take a page out of it! Literally! And make that page into a paper airplane, and sail it off the Brooklyn Bridge and go, “Ooh, you down-and-out conservatives, look how pretty! There’s First Corinthians, fluttering above the boats! Now buck up, you’ve got Karl Rove cooking up something evil even as we speak. And do we have a Karl Rove? We do not.” And when they realize the paper airplane isn’t going to buy them a yacht and they go back to blubbering about their dust-gathering Hummers they can’t afford to fill up, we can give them some pointers on how to un-alienate their base. The current sovereign bodies in all our branches of government have been so busy inciting anti-fer’ner rioting with all this immigration reform that they haven’t had time to cover up the bad press from the Enron conviction or the gas prices or the war our great-great-great-grandchildren will probably have to fight in (if they can ride their bicycles all the way across the ocean). There are only so many pretty white girls that can get kidnapped by ethnic minorities, after all. And gay people are still having sex all over this great country of ours, but when nobody can afford to drive to their thrice-weekly megachurch pyrotechnic X-treme Worship, they have a hard time whipping up enough righteous indignation to power the great Republican Codified Bigotry Machine (which I envision as kind of a cross between the Goodyear Blimp and a spider).

Oh, now, look what I did. I didn’t help anyone; I just kicked some grown-up meatheads when they were down and didn’t even offer to buy them a hooker. It was really fun at the time, but it was the hollow, shameful kind of fun that comes from eating a tub of Red Vines or punching the homeless. It just makes you feel dirty in the end (especially the hand you just used to punch the homeless). Dirty, debased and constantly vulnerable — much like Ken Lay will be in prison. (Whoops.)

05/24/06 12:00am

For someone who openly loathes children, I am the world’s best mother. To drunk people. Because I am often the least-drunk person in any given room. It is not my fault that I bloat easily (and thus drink slowly), and I would like to stop being punished for it. Isn’t the bloating punishment enough? Being responsible blows. But see, someone always has to do it. Because it is a proven scientific fact, proven by scientists in important-looking coats, that in any given group of people up to no good, one person must be the buzz-harshing, fun-killing, horsing-around-opposed, anal-retentive mom-type douche bag and everyone else will just be, like, hanging out doing acid off of herpes-covered dildos and why can’t you just chill, Schuman? Jeez.

I’ll tell you why I can’t just chill — because if I’m not responsible, you’re all going to die!!! And now that summer’s coming, and some people think it’s acceptable to spend all day mainlining margaritas and just WAITING for someone to have an unfortunate accident so that I can explain the head-shaped dent in my wall to the paramedics, I’m here to tell you that everyone had better shape the fuck up and get responsible immediately because the Schuman Mom Train is derailing herself, permanently!!! Pass the crystal meth.

Apparently God hates me so much for not procreating (and also not chiseling the Ten Commandments on courthouses in my spare time) that he has made me de facto Most Responsible Person in the Room for all eternity, and I am sick of it. I quit. I am officially no longer everyone’s hysterical Jewish mother just because I can judge my own level of intoxication (with the possible exception of this magazine’s Literary Upstart in 2005, and if you know what I’m talking about, you’re probably too drunk right now to tease me effectively so you should just mind your own beeswax — and make sure to take an Advil before you go to bed and hydrate or you’ll feel terrible in the morning).

This is not to say that I never do anything stupid. I do massive amounts of stupid things, all day long. My stupid thing/not stupid thing ratio of things done on any given day is generally 3:1. The difference is that I remember everything I do. Even if I’ve been drinking (case in point: Literary Upstart Aught-Five). I remember every unfortunate proclamation of undying love I make, every ill-advised grope, every rejection-fueled putting-on of moves, every regrettable drunk-dialed word. (If only I could apply such skills to my scholarship, I’d be Hannah Arendt). No matter how much I try and how many times I listen to Appetite for Destruction, I can never become intoxicated enough to blank out, and the result is that all potential future degenerate behavior is informed with the memory of past degenerate behavior, and suddenly everyone else is hopped up on PCP making sawdust snow-angels at the paper mill they broke into and I’m home watching House, drinking juice spritzers and just waiting to bail someone out of jail.

This leaves me with two choices. Either I get married immediately, and start hanging out with a bunch of teetotaling Christian fundamentalists and spend all my free time admiring goatees and X-treme Snowboarding Against Gays, or I spend the remaining three months of my twenties turning into Keith Richards. And that, my friends, is not even a real choice. So the next time someone smokes too much weed in my apartment and plunges noggin-first into my door like some sort of gangly weed-addled tree, that someone will be me. Bring on the Everclear and heroin! Fuck yeah! Whooo! Have I ever told you you’re hot? Yaargh!! (B-t-dubs, in case I don’t regain consciousness, I tattooed my stomach with a list of my food and medication allergies, my mom’s home and work phone number, a MapQuest printout of the five nearest hospitals, and TiVo instructions for House.) Now let’s make out before I puke!