Use the Right Words

Synonyms for LEWD. Like Naughty, suggestive, improper, in bad taste, indelicate, questionable, rakish, risque, unchaste, wanton. None are words of violence.


Yeah. Fucking STRONG language. Angry language. Because LANGUAGE MATTERS.


Like, what the fuck, Washington Post and others? Somebody says that he uses his celebrity to sexually assault women and you are stuck on the word P-U-S-S-Y?

Let me do this for you. Pussy. Pussy. Pussy. Did that make you squirm? Well that’s not the fucking point.

Using the word “lewd” (and sometimes “vulgar”) seems like something might make grandma uncomfortable. Synonyms for lewd are words like racy, naughty, coarse, lascivious.

Do any of those words conjure up an image of violation? Of violence? Of pain? Of cruelty? Of savagery? Of unwanted physical contact?

And YOU, editors and reporters, YOU who are leading with the word “lewd” are normalizing violence against women. As is the fucking standard script in rape culture. Can you tell I’ve had it with your shit?

I guess you have never had your breast grabbed as you walked down a dark hallway at a dorm party. Or had a strange man rub his dick against your ass on a crowded train. Or had someone put his unwanted hand on your crotch. Or someone kiss you full on the lips when you offered your cheek. You dad reporters out there, think about someone being “lewd,” as you refer to it, to your child.

Stop pussy-footing around. Words matter. Get this the fuck right!

Shiner Doc

This is the shore of Lake Superior, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. People are at the beach sunbathing. Those are NOT whitecaps but ice flows. Brrrr!

There was that time that I gave the Best Man a black eye. But I get ahead of myself.

When people think about Michigan, top of mind is cars and cold. Most folks don’t realize that in addition to the mitten–i.e., the Lower Peninsula–there is another slab of Michigan. It’s on the other side of the big Mackinac Bridge, which spans the four or five miles where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron kiss. It’s the Upper Peninsula (UP). The hearty people who live in the UP are called Upers.

It’s crossways the 320 miles between Wisconsin on the west and a narrow river separating the U.S. from Canada on the east. To the North is the greatest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior. You can tell it’s the greatest lake because it tells you so. Superior.

My friend’s brother went to school in the UP. I never quite knew how he got there from Milwaukee, but he went to Tech. He studied business at a mining college. Tech is way up north in the Keweenaw Peninsula. [I know, yet another peninsula. What is it with these people?] This Peninsula juts deep into Lake Superior.

Another thing you should know about Lake Superior is that it is cold. Average Keweenaw water temp–when it peaks in the summer–is still less than 60°F. It’s big. It’s cold. And it has a reserved, maybe even a foreboding, personality. If you stare at it too long, it will brush you off. It doesn’t care.

It was at Tech, on the Keweenaw Peninsula, strutting out into that cold, indifferent, arrogant, Superior lake, where the brother met a girl. She was an engineering student at Tech. She must have come from that Scandinavian stock that settled in the UP. The immigrants that set up the saunas in every deer camp that encouraged a naked plunge into the snow. Her long blonde hair cascaded over her shoulder like Upper Tahquamenon Falls. She had a quick smile and a smart wit that was punctuated by the wink of her cerulean eye. And legs for days.

She was from Hancock, which was the town across the bridge from Houghton. When she and the brother decided to make it official, the wedding was in her home town.

So the brother was getting married, and we were off to the destination wedding. Destination far. But we knew some people along the way. And we had bug spray. Fact: the mosquitos can be as big as birds up there on some of the inland lakes. I don’t think, though, they stood a chance off the frigid, Lake High-and-Mighty.

As was our modus operandi, we were late. I think that’s why I don’t remember the rehearsal dinner. It was likely embarrassing.

We were in Marquette for a few days before the wedding and likely slept in or decided on more coffee. There may have also been a side trip to someone’s childhood memories at a lodge purportedly haunted by a murdered doctor of John Dillinger. The purveyor of that story, however, was the step-father who was known to enjoy an acid trip or two and would tell you about his out of body experiences, even without you showing any interest. We didn’t see any ghosts. But I was scared to death when my friend told me about the wild dogs that were on the premises. This was an odd story, too, because the feral beasts were the spawn of a beloved bitch from his childhood named Penny. When I heard a howl or maybe it was a rustle of a bush, I ran back to the car. It might have been Penny’s mad babies. 

It wasn’t my family. And it wasn’t my affair. And I was along for the ride. So we missed dinner. But we did not miss the bonfire.

I knew my friend’s mom. She was awesome. I knew why he loved her so much. She was very kind to me whenever I was on a visit. And she would always bum a menthol off of me. She and her floating spouse smoked regulars. I don’t know if she preferred the mint of my Virginia Slims or just wanted a change, but she was always a little excited to take one out of my pack and light it between her lips. She was pretty, but like a mom. She was probably 44 at that time.

I think we were hungry, but, like I said, blew through any food festivities. There were literally no food options at 9 p.m. in Hancock, Michigan. The all-night diner closed by eight. I bet it opened at 4 a.m., though. For the working folk.

The young people, that would be us and my friend’s brothers and the friends of the betrothed, were on the move. We tried to catch up with them by downing a few cans of whatever cheap beer we drank then. It was likely a Wisconsin brew, since we were close to that border. Somehow I am thinking that we also ate cheese balls for our dinner, on the way.

We left the SuperBeetle behind and climbed in the back of somebody’s truck. There were trucks and vans and cars in the caravan headed to the pitiless and Imperious Lake. For a bonfire.

I knew the groom-to-be. He was super amiable. He and his fiancée were gracious and begged off from the ongoing celebration. They had a big day coming. They took their leave.

This was the first time that I had met the other brother. He was the family favorite.

I had heard his name many times. He was the eldest. The smartest. The chosen. The most charming. He was a medical student at a prestigious Jesuit university in the east. I never thanked him for my introduction to Washington, D.C., which I met on a trip for his graduation. The ceremony was at the Kennedy Center. I was much affected by our nation’s capital and vowed to return. Spoiler alert: I did two years later, for the duration.

There may have been a few dozen of us, with coolers full of beer and melted ice. My friend and I were grubby from the drive and the {mis}adventure of the day, but nobody noticed. The cars rolled up to the Super Lake. Lake Superior. We piled out, grabbed beers, and stood between the fire and the water. The bonfire of driftwood was going as strong as it would. It wasn’t big, but it was a fire.

The brother was in our transport. He was erudite. He was also condescending to my friend. Maybe it was their relationship, the older and the younger sibling.

I thought the brother was obnoxious. He wasn’t my favorite. No, not at all. He wasn’t like he was advertised by his family. He was tall, but slight. I thought that he was throwing me menacing looks. And me, buoyed especially by a few downed cold cans, threw barbs back his way. I may have been rude. I likely was rude. But I was thinking that he was not boss over me, I was not part of the family dynamic that excused his vainglory. To me, he was an ass. Not an asset.

He was peeved by my disdain, and I liked that. I dismissed him by turning away and taking another beer from a cooler. They were less cool now.

A few people were stepping into the ice water that was lapping along the sand. Some rolled up their pants. One stripped to skivvies and jumped in. I found that amazing. I was not that drunk. I don’t think I could be that drunk. And if I were that drunk, hitting that cold water would reverse any drunk that made me that stupid. But, I was from downstate. These Upers were made of this Superior Lake, of the pines around us, of the dark gray smoke from the damp driftwood. Maybe the copper was in their veins. Not mine, though.

I was ambushed from behind. Lifted above his head onto his shoulders. My swagger quickly displaced my shock. The brother started walking to the water, telling me matter of factly that he was going to toss me in. I was feeling the control leaving me as he stepped into the water. He didn’t even have his pants rolled up. I cursed him loudly, in my deepest strongest voice. He laughed. I told him that he was going to turn around–because now I was unable to leave his shoulders without having a dunk tank experience. He laughed again. That was when I took my fist, and I pummeled it into his head as hard as I could.

He stopped. He was very angry now. Too angry to humiliate me any further because he was being humiliated, too. He took the strides back to the shore, and I jumped off. I found my friend and we had another beer. The brother left in the next car. We left a little bit later.

I was ill-prepared for a wedding, and I was grateful that it wasn’t fancy. The wedding party dressed in gowns and tuxedos, but the guests were more relaxed. The bride’s sisters helped me with my braid, and my friend’s mother fretted over the use of the wrinkle cream she brought. None of us twenty year olds had any clue how to apply it.

The groom and his best man presented themselves to the mother. She screamed. Not loud, but not a little. The best man had a black eye. The pictures!?! I said nothing, but the story came out. And the mother was not a little angry with me. It was unfathomable that her favorite would have earned that shiner.

I, on the other hand, stepped away and lit up one of those Virginia Slims and felt very, very, very proud of myself. Almost, Superior.


Eff Your Guns (where Eff is the f-word)

We can do BETTER [sign, I almost typed "sigh"]

I can’t do this. I was writing a post about people leaving, but I just couldn’t.

I couldn’t write another sentence about missing someone who is physically away, because it is selfish since he’s still alive.

I couldn’t think about the loss in my heart as my child grows up, because he has the chance to continue his journey.

Others have none of that. Parents will not see their children again. Friends will not see their friends again. Brothers and sisters will not see their sibs again. In Orlando. In San Bernardino. In Sandy Hook. In Aurora. In too many places.

My feelings of loss are still real, and I’ll finish that post another day–maybe even tomorrow, but today I am stuck on one thing.

I don’t care about your fucking guns. I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR FUCKING GUNS.

I am not safer because you have guns. My children are not safer because you have guns. Nobody that I love is safer because you have guns. My neighborhood is not safer because you have guns. And my city, which is the capital of our country, is obviously not safer for your gun fetish.

I’m at a breaking point.

I’m broken.

I don’t personally give a rat’s ass about guns. But I respect my friends, colleagues, some cool hunters and whoever get a kick out of guns. I give such little rat’s ass that I don’t care that people have them for their reasons. Like they hunt. Or collect. Or are sportsman. Or whatevs.

But today, I have to tell you, with all due respect, fuck your guns. Really. I’ve had it.


Let me say it again.


Really. Don’t tell me how powerful they make us. Because there is no data that convinces me–and I really really loves me some data. Because those constitutional arguments as validated by a Supreme Court intellectual black hole make absolutely no sense vis-à-vis any discussion of any other bill o’ rights issues. And I gotta say, I really really really loves me some U S of A constitutions. Like sickly in love.

Until we can include guns, and any rational role they have in a modern society, in our discussion of solutions to issues of religious extremism, homophobia, hate and intolerance that are expressed in mass murder, I am totally through. There is not a single silver bullet–pardon the gun reference–to stop terrorism and hate crimes. If we don’t put everything on the table, we just keep talking in circles. Like we have. Dizzy. And 50 more dead.

I am very sorry, Loyal Reader, to rant in an incoherent fashion. But this was all I could write today.

And I am sorry. So, so, sorry.  Yes. I am sorry.

Except for saying, fuck your guns. They are not more important than people.


A Tale of Two Thomases

It was the worst of Thomas, and it was the best of times.

The worst, (Justice) Clarence Thomas, once again smearing Anita Hill in an attempt to hustle his book and polish his rep. The best, Ms. Hill reclaiming her dignity.

The worst, (basketball executive and former playa) Isaiah Thomas saying that while it’s always wrong for a white man to refer to a black woman as a “bitch” or a “ho”, it is no such restriction on a black man. The best, the Knicks and Mr. I. Thomas getting socked for $11.6 million in damages for sexual harrasment.

Orlando Patterson wrote a thoughtful piece in the NYT in the context of the Jena 6 case (and OJ, again), in which he says

…something that has been swept under the rug for too long in black America: the crisis in relations between men and women of all classes and, as a result, the catastrophic state of black family life, especially among the poor….a fact of life for too many black women who must daily confront indignity and abuse in hip-hop misogyny and everyday conversation. What is done with words is merely the verbal end of a continuum of abuse that too often ends with beatings and spousal homicide.

Gentlemen do not talk to ladies like the two Thomases did, or like Don Imus has. We need to expect better of our men. All of the time.

White Guy Can’t Rap

To the category of over-developed sense of importance I would like to add the white guy who wrote about how if he didn’t buy those hip-hop joints with bad messages, then hip hop would clean up. You know, less guns, less drugs, less ‘hos and the n-word all because he–and other influential white folk–are going to stop buying it.

Hey, Dude, you didn’t invent the Internet, either!

While you can listen to hip hop, that doesn’t mean you make it. And while your $16 for a CD adds to the bottom line, hip hop don’t need you. You need hip hop–for whatever has been drawing you to it for the past 20 years.

Stop whining about the fact that your 3 year-old can’t listen to your IPod. Duh. It makes sense that you listen to music–see movies, read books, and partake in other adult activities–that you wouldn’t share with your children. You are the grown up.

Did you hear Nickelback’s Rockstar? It follow the classic, formula rock song about the dreamlife of drugs, big cars and houses, and easy women. But you don’t classify that as a problem–why is the problem rap not rock?

Is it okay because white people are not susceptible to “bad” music messages aimed at them? Are whites only immune to the plight of poor, urban African Americans? Don’t we also ignore poor whites, Latinos, Asians and, of course, Native Americans?

Here you go, that’s the way you do it!

Practically, did you know that most artists don’t make money on record sales? The record companies do. The artists make money on tour and from merchandise. So you can put away your white man’s wallet and skip the CD and not make a penny’s worth of difference to 50 Cent’s bottom line.

BTW 50 has decided that the market is too hot for “hard-core” joints, with the Don Imus thing and all. So he released the “softer” Curtis CD. You know more family-friendly songs like “My Gun,” and respectful lyrics like “We got to share the same b*tch, okay I go first.”

White Guy, it’s okay for you to buy–or not buy–whatever you like. It’s okay for you to be offended by music you like. I, too, have cringed at lyrics that escape my lips. But you can probably do more to make a difference in your community by doing a good job doing your job–don’t sweat the music, and good luck.

Bullied About

I am very sorry to have to admit this. I am chastened and embarrassed to say it. I am confused and somewhat annoyed with myself, too.

I just don’t get it.

I came home to see the 15-year-old beating the brains out of someone with a baseball bat. All in the name of good, clean fun.

That is good, teen (T) fun–at least according to Boys’ Life and reviewers from Amazon and Wired. He was playing Bully.

So somehow, I just missed the idea that a game is not over the top, and is somehow redeemed because the violence is bloodless. Brains are not smeared on the sidewalk, so it’s okay. See, I just don’t get it.

I am watching the kids (my kids) pulverizing someone. And they are laughing. They are excited. They are egging each other on. Telling the 15-year old to have his character–named Jimmy–take another swing at the boy lying on the sidewalk with his hands in front of his face trying to protect himself. I, alone, am cringing. See, I’m not getting it, still.

It’s supposed to be good because “Jimmy” helps kids being bullied. By using extreme violence. And the game is good because it doesn’t reward Jimmy for bullying. See, if he beats up his bad-guy classmates he earns new ways to beat up the bad-guy classmates. This is, not considered extreme violence because his main weapons are his fists and an occasional trash can lid. No guns, knives or blood. See, I can’t tell the difference between extreme and not so extreme. Still not getting it.

I interrupted the beating. “Hey, I thought that this game wasn’t supposed to reward violence.” The kids turned around and sheepishly smiled, then returned to the melee. I had to walk away. Not getting it.

“Doc!” you say. “Why were you surprised that a game with a name of Bully brought to you by the same folks who made car-jacking and killing cops into gameplay would be a bit violent? What were you thinking??”

One good thing happened, though. The kids misplaced the game. Get it?