10/25/06 12:00am
10/25/2006 12:00 AM |

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  •

09/27/06 12:00am
09/27/2006 12:00 AM |

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
09/13/2006 12:00 AM |

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.

08/02/06 12:00am
08/02/2006 12:00 AM |

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.

08/02/06 12:00am
by |

3 Best Downtown Personalities We’d Like to See Challenge for the Mayor’s Office (besides Christopher X. Brodeur)
The Reverend Billy His dedicated (though never humorless) anti-consumerist tub-thumping would mark a radical departure from the current nabob’s love of the corporate business model-as-government. And he has a gospel choir.

Blackface Jesus What more do you need? He’s the Son of God! And he uses a dubious gimmick with racist overtones to perpetuate his limited, local fame!
Taylor Mead This former Factory star-turned-performance poet would begin by overturning the smoking ban and would then have a series of really good parties at Gracie Mansion. And that’s about it, we suppose.

Best “Huge Failure” That Ever Happened to New York
The Loss of the 2012 Olympics
(which happened in no small way thanks to Shelly Silver’s vetoing of the West Side Stadium proposal).  A successful Olympic bid would have served as carte blanche for city and state governments to greenlight ridiculous developments up and down the waterfront, crying “eminent domain” at the top of their lungs. That’s still happening, but less so.

3 Best Potential Presidents From NYC Municipal Politics
Peter Vallone Jr.
Sure, this Democratic city councilman from Astoria has some pretty outlandish ideas, but if he made it to the White House, one of those ideas just might happen: the secession of New York City from New York State, which he proposed in both 2003 and 2006. And we think that would be great… President Vallone Jr….
Sheldon Silver  Beyond the obvious coolness factor of having a tough-talking Jew from the Lower East Side named Shelly in the White House (best Easter Egg hunt ever), as Speaker of the State Assembly over the last decade, Democrat Silver has been a stalwart counterbalance to Pataki’s Red State tendencies, and Bloomberg’s development lust. And he’d probably appoint Joe Bruno as Secretary of State.

Cory Booker We understand that Newark is in New Jersey, and therefore, Mr. Booker (the city’s new mayor) doesn’t qualify as a NYC politician. However, we like him so much we’ll make an exception. Beside the fact he’s the only one on this list who might actually make a run at the Presidency some day, Booker’s aggressive reform ideas and legitimately hands-on approach to governance reminds us of a young Bobby Kennedy. Sigh.

05/10/06 12:00am
05/10/2006 12:00 AM |

It’s hard to be smarter than everyone else. Just ask me. I’d answer you, but I’m too trapped in my own complex system of dialectical hermeneutics, and we’d probably both end up dead. For example, if being a total shut-in is a sign of superior intellect, why doesn’t my furniture acquiesce and buy me some cosmetic surgery and nice shoes? It’s terribly difficult and dramatic to be as gifted as I am. This, I suspect, is also why I seem to be unable to keep a boyfriend for very long (that and the fact that apparently some people like to talk about something other than me).

My problem, I’ve realized, is that the dragons living in my head (dragons that are smarter than the dragons living in the heads of everyone else) won’t allow me to synthesize the full force of my powers for evil because they have some sort of moral objection. I try to tell the dragons about the “might plus evil equals success” paradigm, but they just won’t listen. They just tromp around in my head setting things on fire and going “BLARGH!” and arguing about Rainer Maria Rilke. Fucking dragons.

You’re familiar, of course, with “might plus evil equals success.”

Take Leni Riefenstahl. Nobody calls her the greatest filmmaker ever for all that crap she did in Africa. That was just penance for placing her pouty Aryan lips around Hitler’s scrotum and humming Flight of the Valkyries for most of 1936. Triumph of the Will was such a self-fulfilling prophecy (at least until the fire-bombing of Dresden) because all her directorial gifts were concentrated on Hitler. If only we were all so lucky.

Or Ann Coulter. I may just be bitter because Ann and I broke up after 13 of the most highly-sexed lesbian months you’ve ever witnessed (and our prenup meant that I had to give back both the Hummer and the army of illegal immigrant minskirt weavers), but she’s another example of how to use your entire Will to Power to incite mass hysteria and sheep-like adherence to neo-totalitarianism. On their own, Ann’s powers (one part marginal writing prowess, four parts baseless invective, and a fine dusting of skinny legs) add up to little more than a live-action version of Janis from The Muppet Show on a crusade against fer’ners. But synthesized in the service of evil, they translate to seven-figure book deals, and that buys enough self-tanner to orange-ify all of Nürnberg.

And of course, look at Karl Rove. You might think that serving as Head Evil Genius for the Bush White House is the amalgamation of his Dark Lord powers, but his recent departure from his post to skulk back into the shadows in the service of maintaining the Republican majority in the midterm elections proves otherwise. I cannot even imagine the war heroes he will smear or the groupthink bigotry he’ll incite when the full force of his genius is freed from the coddling of his puppet overlord and returned to the underbelly whence it came!

In the meantime, I hope you are all thinking of ways to apply your own gifts to the Riefenstahl/Coulter/Rove model, because as far as I can tell, the world needs as much of this kind of thing as it can get. How else, after all, will we get to the Apocalypse — which, lest you forget, consists of seven rapturous years of “Hell on Earth” (consisting of a world without Christians and little kids — where do I sign up)? I myself am going to find a way to concentrate my own gifts — extreme loudness and the inability to hold down a relationship — for the forces of evil. I haven’t quite synthesized it yet, but the dragons in my head are saying something about Jimmy Choos and a rap album. I just hope I figure it out before November, when we’ll all be dead.

02/01/06 12:00am
02/01/2006 12:00 AM |

Author’s Note: Because of some buttinsky “journalists” and their fickle demands for “truth”— from irrelevant douche bags, not the President; calm down — the Author, who is a Grade-A Genius, is forced to include the following Note: the following memoir is one hundred percent bullshit. I’m rich. – Rebecca Schuman, Best-Selling Authoress

My name is Rebecca Schuman. I am a Vixen and a Heartbreaker. The word “Schuman” has appeared five times in the preceding two paragraphs (six if you count the one in this sentence), and this means that I am important and pained.

I spent most of my twenties (otherwise known as “the last two years”) as a bad, bad person. Therefore, it follows that I am a multizillionaire, a super-hot sorority girl, a quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, and a future nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court (Ruth Bader Ginsburg will die in 2031; I will be nominated due to my harrowing ability to overcome my troubled past). I will definitely get confirmed, in case you are wondering, because my husband bursts into tears at the least provocation — not just when Ted Kennedy picks on me for being a white supremacist and simultaneously an immigrant, but because I enjoy beating him while I watch Dr. Phil, and he is therefore often quite jumpy… or, as cool writers would describe it, Jumpy. It is not my fault he can’t weather a punch, and we all know that “concussions” are for queers; I once flew from Jakarta to Mumbai with 18 simultaneous concussions, subsisting only on vomit casserole and motor oil — and when I say “flew” I don’t mean “sat there like some pussed-out Civilian,” I mean flew the plane myself.  

Because I know how to fly airplanes; that is one of the many admirable qualities that makes me so attractive to men such as film and television star James Franco, who was my extremely subservient gentleman lover until I had to take out a restraining order against him.  “I pretend to fly airplanes in the movies,” he used to say, “but you fly them for real. You’re amazing, Rebecca Schuman, and I, James Franco, love you.” Then he’d sketch me in the nude — I mean, he was nude, I was wearing a maribou jumpsuit. I finally had to dump him for alternative comedy star Eugene Mirman, who has much fewer dollars than James Franco, but much larger breasts.  Our lovers’ discourses were conducted entirely in Russian. It was very
romantic. They went a lot like this: где спутник? я могуча писательница!! Such sweet nothings espoused the very essence of my Soul in dense foreign prose way too complicated for you to understand.  Even Eugene Mirman can’t really understand it, and that is why I had to dump him for a torrid affair with the entire casts of Final Destination and Final Destination 2 (but not Final Destination 3 — they’re a bunch of hacks), and an eventual marriage to aging Britpop icon Richard Ashcroft, who can’t take a punch because he is too busy gazing at his own cheekbones.

Yes, I have had a passionate and exciting love life, full of intrigue and harrowing behavior and several relapses with James Franco, who enjoys being shirtless in private life even more than he does in the movies. He and similarly-handsome actor Cillian Murphy had a fistfight over me just last week, and my current husband Richard Ashcroft had to pacify them with a piercing rendition of the old Verve hit ‘History,’ which he wrote about me.  Don’t believe anything you hear from anyone else, such as that I am pushing “thirty,” or that I just spent an entire weekend eating carrot cake directly from a trough. Which, even if I did, would be totally erotic and lovely. I am a genius, or as Eugene Mirman would say in Russian, я идиот.              
If that’s not the total Truth, I don’t know what is.  Now bring on Ted Kennedy.

01/18/06 12:00am
01/18/2006 12:00 AM |

It was two in the morning and I was dry-heaving alone on the Upper East Side. As I lurched about, my body in a state of Ukraine-circa-2004 revolt, I realized two things. One: passersby were busy engaging in my favorite activity, which is ignoring people. Two: had anyone noticed me, I would have been greeted — despite being completely sober and very ill — by a disgusted sneer and a “Take it inside, Drunky.” The best part is, I myself had employed similar impatience (and a similar nickname) with an inebriated young man the previous night, a night I had spent in the emergency room with a brutal case of the North American Terrestrial People Flu.

“The nurse wants to give you your water, Drunky McGee.” That’s what I’d said. He’d employed my favorite activity and ignored me — which was just as well, as he’d spent the previous four hours passed out in a pile of his own yarf. However, I could have used the company, as it was going on my sixth hour in the ER, my 104-degree fever was finally abating, and the hospital staff was demonstrating with admirable perfection my favorite activity, ignoring me with such precision that I might actually have ceased to exist.

On Law & Order, when someone falls ill (or is shot, or stabbed, or poisoned) in the middle of the night, his plight fades to black before he reappears, with an authoritative Law & Order BONG BONG sound, in a peaceful single hospital room, surrounded by bleepy machines and medical professionals, both equally serious-looking. Alas, though, like apartment sizes on Friends or a writer’s salary on Sex & the City, private quarters in a New York ER are a television myth. Just as America’s viewing public would be horrified at a walkup studio for $2,000 a month, Minnesotan housewives might cringe at the actual scene in one of our emergency rooms, which consists of dozens of stretchers wedged into a hallway, five or six medical professionals who strip the adjective “overworked” of all previous meaning and then don’t even have the time to re-define it, and a whole bunch of people who could snuff it at any minute. Your only hope is that someone might have time to pay attention to you before you actually die.

The only reading material I’d managed to bring was a copy of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, which was so boring that it might have sent me into convulsions even if my fever didn’t. I didn’t want to risk it, so I devoted my attention to my co-patients. The elderly woman on the stretcher behind me claimed the year was 1905 and became violent when the staff refused to comply with her request of $20 in exchange for her blood. The even more elderly lady behind her kept trying to make a break for it, clad only in a paper gown and an adult diaper. When the staff revealed displeasure at this activity, she wished a pox upon them and was summarily tied to her stretcher. And then, of course, there was the young man wheeled in by paramedics, his expensive-looking white shirt stained with the telltale pinky-orange of partially digested party snacks. Being otherwise occupied, he hadn’t filled out his paperwork and thus had to provide his age and spell his name for the staff, which he did so loudly and slowly that I still have it memorized (“Karl,” 23). To queries of what had brought him to the ER that fine evening, he replied: “I GOT DRUNK.” Even in my fever haze, I smirked.

Eventually I got my discharge papers and a diagnosis I probably could have given myself. I forgot all about “Karl” until about 20 hours later, when a failed journey for nausea medicine left me dry-heaving in public. As I convulsed and stumbled, I couldn’t help but think to myself: That Drunky McGee in the — BLAARGH — in the ER was horribly, horribly — BLARGH oh God let it end — horribly misunderstood.

12/21/05 12:00am
12/21/2005 12:00 AM |

I recently got some reader mail, a baffling event to be sure, as I’m pretty certain the only people who read this column are unsuspecting tourists who think I’ll give them tips on the best way to stand around in a fucking circle on a subway platform. Less baffling was that it qualified as what we in the amateur-punditry field refer to as “hate mail.” “Please,” it begged. “Please, please, please,” it continued to beg, just to make sure I understood its intensity (and to be fair, I am pretty slow). “Do the people of New York City a favor. Unless you have some truth or good to pass on to the world, stop writing your column.” Would that I could, good sir, would that I could — however, last year, after I joked about the Rapture, Satan revealed himself to me and concocted a sweet deal in exchange for the loss of two inches around my hips.

The deal was similar to the deal he made with rifle heiress Sarah Winchester in 1885, wherein she wasn’t allowed to stop adding on to her mansion in exchange for rocking a fashionable 13-inch waist. This resulted in the 160-room Winchester Mystery House, which is now one of America’s highest-quality roadside attractions. I’m sure you can see where this is going, even if you’re slow like I am: Satan and I split a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20, he did some herky-jerky motions, and suddenly I fit into my skinny jeans — which has made me one of America’s great roadside attractions.

Then Satan told me that unless I kept writing this column forever and ever, he would make a cruel barter deal with God and trade me for a Quaker, sentencing that Quaker (along with his inner light) to eternal damnation and me to Heaven, where I would be stuck hanging out with a bunch of non-drinking virgins for all time. My eternity would be spent watching amateur-censored “family friendly” DVDs, which got that way by being hacked up by some idiot in Kansas who learned to use an Avid specifically to cut the boob shots out of every good movie ever made. Meanwhile, some sweet pacifist would be stuck down in Hell, pounding down cheap champagne and watching Freaks and Geeks with all of my friends.

Obviously, I was not going to allow this to happen, so I agreed to keep filing this column no matter how stupid it was, but that wasn’t good enough for Satan. See, the final stipulation of my contract was that instead of bringing “truth and good” to the world — a world which, let’s face it, already has enough of that crap to go around, wouldn’t you say? — I would create only evil and lies. I’m really sorry about this, but what would you do in my place, faced with a possible eternity of virgin margaritas and hacked-up versions of Rushmore?  

Like Nietzsche said: I am not a person, I am dynamite! And also like Nietzsche said: I know my fate. That fate involves eternal torment, grilled cheese sandwiches, Czech liquor, a series of increasingly meaningless affairs — and, most importantly, a tuchas that will stay svelte (thus providing fodder for the aforementioned series of increasingly meaningless affairs). It’s not my fault I have my priorities in order.  

Of course, if we’re being pedantic, Nietzsche also said “truth is a woman.” Applying that particular axiom to the demands of my non-admirer, I should then be required to pass “women” along to the world — and that, good sir, is illegal, at least in this state. Of course, that was an example of false causality — exactly the kind of false causality the Christian fundamentalists love using to vilify Harry Potter, dildos, and anything else fun. And really, you can’t possibly expect me to spend an eternity subject to false causality. That’s even worse than censored movies. Thus my destiny, pointless as it may be, must continue. Ecce Schuman!