Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Darkness Means...Danger - The Hollyfelds At Rock*A*Billies

The world is full of wonder. The first time I caught the Hollyfelds was back in October of last year, when they opened for the Hickman-Dalton Gang at the Soiled Dove. The only reason I was at that show, btw, was to watch Johnny Hickman play the guitar - he is one of my personal guitar gods.

The Hollyfelds were the opener, and open they did. And in an eerily coincidental manner, I became a fan of theirs. 

Eerily coincidental because I had become a fan of Johnny Hickman's when he was playing lead guitar for a sadly long-forgotten band known as The Unforgiven, who were opening for another unappreciated and long-forgotten band, The Long Ryders, of which I was a big fan.

Johnny Hickman knocked me on my ass that night (he played Amazing Grace, bottleneck slide - it was incredible).

The Hollyfelds, while not as senses-numbing with their performance when they opened for the Hickman-Dalton Gang, made a similar impression on me.

It was their enthusiasm. They flat out just loved what they were doing, and it showed big time.

This band, comprised of Keith Hoerig on bass, his dynamo wife Eryn on electric acoustic guitar and vocals, the delightful Kate Grigsby joining her in vocal duties and on guitar, the highly-skilled Tim Mallot on electric guitar (and mandolin), and Sam Spitzer keeping the pace on the drums, have been around since 2006, so I'm a bit of a late comer to the fanclub.

But much, much better late than never.

Tonight's show at Rock*A*Billies in Arvada was the same mixture of polished professionalism and raw enthusiasm that I've now come to expect from this fine ensemble.

The band played for just about two hours, and the vocals from Eryn and Kate were as strong in the last song as the they were in the first song.

They played a number of their own compositions (Empress of Wyoming, What It Feels Like, Burned, Momma Got A DUI), and a number of covers (from the works of Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline...and The Statler Brothers).

The double-barreled vocals of Eryn & Kate were strong all night - they belted out songs like frat boys downing shots, with wild abandon and exuberance beyond the pale.

Which amazes me. Crowd size is not a performance indicator for this group. The bar was fairly packed with about 150 people present when they took the stage around 9:00, but it had thinned to 50 by the time they were wrapping it up a little after 11:00 (older crowd, and we tend to go home early...)

The harmonies were still soaring though, and the band was still giving it's all. They played for 50 fans with more passion and energy than I've seen chart-topping bands play in sold-out stadiums.

I estimate I have attended well over 1,000 concerts (having family in the ticket biz has helped). Hundreds of those shows were forgotten the day after. The Hollyfelds, they are memorable. 

Oh, lest I forget, Rock*A*Billies is a damn fine establishment. I highly recommend the Billy sandwich - Yum!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sneaky Little Flowers

These flowers have no right to be here
They were never planted
Somehow they made their way to this little plot of land
And took root
Now they bask in the sun all day
Looking all innocent
I see through that thin disguise
Their intentions cannot escape my keen perception
Try as they might they will never steal
All of my appreciation
I will save some of it for the roses

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Acrophobic Pig That Was Born With Wings

         Sculpture/Screen at Central Park In The Stapleton Neighborhood Of Aurora, Co

Jane Delano Flakes was born on November 10th of 2009. At first he appeared to be an ordinary piglet, though a little feisty and too much a biter for his mother's tastes.

Three weeks after he was born though, Jane Delano Flakes began to show an unusual growth. Not unusual as in a "Get-the-Doctor-he's-got-a-tumor" sort of way though. 

More of a "Get-the-camera-call-the-papers-this-pig-is-going-to-make-us-rich" sort of way

At least that's what Farmer Klepper thought. 

For Jane Delano Flakes, one of eleven born to the sow Feodosi Happy Flakes, had started to sprout, a mere eight weeks after his birth, for lack of a better term....wings

The wings started showing at the tail end of Jane Delano's second week on the planet. By then his Mother, Father, and siblings had begun referring to him as J.D., as the name Jane, which he was assigned mere hours after birth, had become a very apparent misnomer.

And make no mistake, they were wings

A casual observer would equate the protrusions on his back to chicken wings, for they initially had the look of chicken wings - chicken wings that had been plucked of feathers, that is.

But days later...those wings had grown. And they continued to grow. 

At three months, the wings were larger that those of an eagle. Each wing was covered with white feathers that were streaked with blue at the tips.

J.D.'s tail, which had been small and curly at birth, had straightened and tailfeathers now completely covered it.

Farmer Klepper, who had built a small booth in which he displayed J.D to the ticket-purchasing public, suddenly had an idea.

"That pig", said Farmer Klepper to his wife Marina, "was born to fly."

The very next morning Farmer Klepper set about building a tower. Three days after he started on the tower he stood 28 feet above his farm, and he looked down at the small booth that J.D. now called home.

This was as high as Farmer Klepper had ever been and as he looked down the thought occurred to him that a nice big pile of hay at the bottom of the tower would be necessary, in case the pig wouldn't fly.

Didn't want to damage the star attraction.

He walked down the 38 stair steps and over to the hay wagon. He pushed the wagon over to the base of the tower and emptied all the hay into a large pile.

"That," Thought Farmer Klepper, "should do it'"

He then walked to J.D.'s little booth, picked up J.D., and walked right back to the tower and up the 38 steps.

At the top of the tower he held J.D out in front of him...and let go.

J.D. fell, and as he fell he frantically flapped his wings, Hoping that, miraculously, he would take flight, soar over the countryside, and then gracefully alight on the ground in front of the barn.

J.D. fell. He fell very, very fast.

He landed in the pile of hay and had all of the air knocked out of his lungs.

J.D. did not like this at all.

Farmer Klepper raced down the stairs and over to J.D. "OMG!" He thought - "I hope I haven't damaged the goods!"

But J.D. was okay, just a bit bent and bruised.

Farmer Klepper thought to himself...for a long while. "This is one dumb pig. I will have to show him how to fly".

So Farmer Klepper began to spend a few minutes each day flapping each of J.D.'s wings up and down, followed by dancing in front of J.D. for a full twenty minutes with his hands tucked into his armpits and his arms frantically flapping, much as he hoped that J.D. would start doing.

J.D. thought a lot of that was very interesting, and at night, when the rest of the barn, especially those that spent time teasing him about his wings, were asleep, he would spend hours mimicing Farmer Klepper.

And one night, in the wee hours of the morning, J.D. took flight.

And it scared him to no end.

In the morning Farmer Klepper made his usual rounds feeding the animals, collecting the chicken eggs, and milking the cows.

It wasn't until he had taken the horses out to the paddock that he noticed that the pigs in the sty were all staring at the top of the barn.

Farmer Klepper stared at the top of the barn too.

On the top of the roof, sprawled out with all four limbs holding on for dear life, was J.D.

J.D. squealed loudly as Farmer Klepper stared up at him. He wanted down, and he wanted down right then and there.

Farmer Klepper fetched his tall ladder and climbed up to J.D., tucked him under his arm, and brought him back down to earth.

J.D. ran off to a secluded corner of the sty as soon as Farmer Klepper set him down. He huddled in the corner hiding his face in his wings.

Farmer Klepper was astounded. The pig had flown up to the top of the barn, but wouldn't fly back down. He was afraid to fly back down.

This could be a problem.

For the next few days, Farmer Klepper and his wife pondered the situation. If the pig could fly, then a fortune was to be had.

They were a poor family, and the extra income from exhibiting J.D. was a welcome boon. However, the crowds had slowed to a trickle, namely due to skeptical articles in the papers leading to a general consensus that J.D.s wings were artificial and had been attached by Farmer Klepper to turn J.D. into a cheap carnival side show attraction.

Despite having J.D. examined by respected Veterinarians and the wings being declared genuine natural protuberances, Farmer Klepper knew he needed something spectacular to convince the ticket-buying public.

The pig needed to fly, and fly on command in front of large audiences.

J.D. had kept to himself in the days that followed his rescue from the roof by Farmer Klepper. At dusk, when his little booth was closed for the night, he would scurry to a little corner of the barn and hide away from the rest of the animals.

He no longer tried to flap his wings. Anytime his wings involuntarily moved he would splay himself flat on the ground, trying to hold onto the earth with all four of his little hooves.

J.D. couldn't bear the thought of being aloft again. He was afraid he would find himself enjoying the rush of the nght air over his feathers and then he'd make the same dreadful mistake...

He would look down.

The first time he looked down and saw how very, very far away the ground was, he froze with fear, which was not good as his wings needed to flap in order to keep him up.

That was when he fell down to the barn roof, and held on tightly all night until Farmer Klepper came up to get him

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It Was Purely A Cerebral Affair


   We met through mutual friends
           Damn them all to hell
    It didn't start off kind of crazy
              Nobody lost it
                 There were no surprises 
                   No baggage carousels
 Things never seemed to get out of hand
       No difficult situations
                      The drunk texts were never sent 
                                       From or to either
No clashes                                                                                            over                                                                                                            imaginary                                                                                                                                                                                slights                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                Enough time apart to suit
                                             Not one single 

                                           Not even mild debate
                            Just intelligent discussions
                 And long evenings of quiet bliss
Never felt smothered
                    No-one turned the other's life
                                  upside down
                  All friends 
                   Accepted                                                                                                                                                                                                           All others rejected
                       This one, this one relationship
                                                                       was not volatile
                                    Which is not to say
It wasn't incredibly passionate  
                                                                  But still...                                                                                                              

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Don't Wanna Rock, I Want To Slam

                        Along Colorado State Route 24, West Of Woodland Park

Late last night I received a text from a friend who was attending the Rock of Ages concert at the Pepsi Center that featured Def Leppard, Poison and Lita Ford. The gist of her multiple texts was that Def Leppard still rocks, Poison does too, and Lita Ford does as well. She also repeatedly stated that I should have been there, as the concert would have "rocked my ass off".

I then realised that this friend of mine, who I have known for quite some time, has no clue as to my taste in music.

Def Leppard, Poison, Lita Ford...talented musicians and entertainers I'm sure, but they hold absolutely no appeal for me. It's not only not the sort of music that would rock my ass off, it is quite the opposite - it's the very music I hurriedly skip past when I'm searching for a decent station on the car radio - even when I'm driving through Utah in the middle of the night and I know full well there is no other radio signal for at least 100 miles.

I momentarily entertained the idea of texting her back that I thought she was confusing what would rock my ass off with what would bore my ass to tears, but I didn't. Instead, as I have about a million times since I was a teenager (really, a million - or maybe millions - but certainly not a billion - I would hate to exaggerate), I pondered why I do not find most popular music, especially the popular music of the era that most of my contemporaies wax nostalgic over, the '80's, even remotely interesting, not to mention enjoyable.

It's not a recent turn in my taste, not at all. I have never been able to get into what has generally been broadcast on the radio (especially before satellite and internet radio).

When I was in my twenties, the chart-topping music, the music that was everywhere on the radio,did nothing for me at all. Acts such as Foreigner, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, The Smiths, Billy Joel, Elton John, Jefferson Starship, Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Judas Priest, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Europe, Asia, Boston, Kenny Loggins, Lionel Ritchie, Bon Jovi, Quiet Riot, Culture Club, Slayer, Queensryche, Styx, Heart, Aerosmith, Public Enemy, Whitesnake, The Jets, George Michael, Salt-N-Pepa, Ted Nugent, Roxette, Warrant, Garth Brooks, Mariah Carey, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Sir Mix-A-Lot, The Black Crowes, Sonic Youth...none of those acts ever appealed to me. Not in the slightest.

Oh sure, one of those acts would occassionally put out a song that would grab my ear - Lionel Ritchie did it with Sail On, Quiet Riot did it with Bang Your Head - but those were huge (and still to this day, unexplainable) exceptions.

On the whole, all of the music those talented, skilled, dedicated-to-their-craft peformers created...did nothing for me. To be blunt, I thought all of it was unlistenable dreck.

I cannot explain why, just as I cannot explain why the music of the Replacements, Long Ryders, Rank & File, Lords of the New Church, Plimsouls, Violent Femmes, Cheap Trick, The Jam, Annie Lennox, Yazoo, Midnight Oil, De La Soul, The Pogues, The Clash, Josie Cotton, Devo, Squeeze, Dwight Yoakam, The Fleshtones, Jim Carroll, Peter Gabriel, Rockpile, Hoodoo Gurus, The Knack, Madness, Prince, Beastie Boys, The Nails, Translator, Pete Shelley, Del Lords, 20/20, Screaming Blue Messiahs, Agent Orange, Joan Jett, The Stranglers, k.d. lang, Billy Ocean...all appealed to me, big time.

It's a mystery to me why one song with very limited public appeal could make me feel like turning up the speakers until my ears hurt (say, She's Like Heroin To Me by the Gun Club) while a song with a much broader public appeal made me want to take a twenty pound sledge to my speakers (say, anything ever recorded by Loverboy).

And it continues to this day. I couldn't listen to Teenage Dream by Katy Perry if it would save my testicles from a pack of ravenous Rottweilers, but Arvydas Sabonis by Margot and the Nuclear So and So's is definitely rocking my ass off.

Yep, I pondered that little question for a good minute or so last night, then deleted the texts and procceded to get back into the Don Matteo episode I had been watching. 

Some questions are just not answerable. I might as well be asking myself why I like the color magenta.

Margot and the Nuclear So and So's played the Larimer Lounge here this past May. I didn't text anyone I knew here about it - if there's one thing I became aware of as a young man, most people think my taste in music sucks. I've grown comfortable with that and no longer try to convince anyone else otherwise.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Everybody's Smiling This Morning

Take Pleasure In The Pure Beauty Of Nature

Happiness beams from faces
                           Brighter than sunshine

Teeth are flashing and eyes are twinkling
                          The world is enjoying the day

Fresh cool breezes tickle the leaves
The trees all quietly giggle
Birds and bees
All dance and weave
From flower to branch 
In an ecstatic rhythmic dance 
People waving 
At strangers and maybe
Cheerfully saying hello
Delightfully so 
               Surrendering to the joy
Of being able to breath
               Fresh air and sweet fragrance
On a wonderful day 
               Within a wonderful world

Sing aloud in celebration
It's all just beatitudo
To greet the morning with elation
And savior all that's beautiful          

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gradually Everything Fades Away...

                                      Only Known Habitat Of The Saguaro Cactus

Something about her, maybe it was her hair, maybe it was the shape Of her face
It may have even been just the way that dress fit her body on that Particular day
Sparked a strong desire
From that day forward she was all you wanted, all you could think About
You didn't know anything about her
You had no idea if she was straight, what music she liked or whose lies She believed in political debates
You just had to have her, that's all you knew
So you finally chanced into an opportunity to arrange a date
It all went fairly smooth
She was into men, she liked good music, or at least the music you Considered good
She seemed to be into you, too
Days spent together turned into weeks which somehow became Months
It became evident to everyone you were a couple
The day came when you had the conversation about how ridiculous Was it that you both paid rent on apartments
A lease was signed and you bought a sofa and a table
One day the guys at work wanted to get a few beers
You called and left a message you'd be home late
She was up and angry when you came in at half past eleven
Fortunately you insisted on buying the overstuffed sofa
Took two days before all was forgiven and back on track
There was still something about her 
You bought flowers and that wine she loved (you hated)
Following week she insisted you take a day off to help her Mother Move
You needed the hours, she said you were just being selfish
Her Mother bought you a half rack when you finished hauling boxes (three flights of stairs)
Late one Saturday she called to say she'd be going for drinks with her Sister and some friends
At four in the morning she came stumbling in
You ignored her condition and just got her undressed and into bed
She was late for work Sunday and was mad at you for not getting her Up
Three months after moving in you couldn't remember the last time She wore anything but sweats
You stared at your belly and wondered if it was any worse than hers
One of the rare days you shared off you went shopping together
For nice clothes to wear to a friend's wedding
She was three dress sizes bigger, your pants at least two 
(when you sucked in your gut)
The day ended with dinner at a bar with burgers and fries for you both
Home from the reception you striped off the new clothes that were Suddenly too tight
You had sex for the first time in 47 days and nights
There was still something about her but it definitely wasn't the way Her body fit into dresses
Two months passed by, you saw each other in the mornings kissed Each other good night
Then the day she called you at work to tell you she's late
Four days you fretted and wondered what the hell 
Day five she called you to tell you she got her period
Involuntarily you sighed in relief and she slammed the phone down
You got home from work the apartment had an empty feel
Note on the table told you she's at her sister's
Needs a few days to think about the relationship
You walked to the bedroom, looked at a picture
Taken of you both when you spent that weekend at the beach
You didn't recognize her in the picture, nor yourself
That was a happy, smiling couple in love with each other
And the world
Sitting on the edge of the bed you took off your shoes
Minutes later you put them back on
You called your brother in Tracy and told him you needed to stay Awhile
Tossed all your clothes into garbage bags, loaded up  
What you thought was yours into the truck
Drove north and listened to the same song for hours
Called the job with your brother's address for your last check
There was nothing about her that you desired

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Stab At Writing One Of Those Retro-Futuristic SteamPunky Adventures, Part 1

                   You Always Want To Start With A Clean Sheet Of Bond Paper

Memory does not always serve me correctly. However, I am fairly certain that Thompson had been a level-headed, intelligent man with little or no patience for the gullible. I had known his father rather well and I can state with certainty that those were family traits, along with that unmistakable and unfortunate weak chin that appeared to recede into his neck before it was fully formed.

So it was with a considerable degree of amazement that I read the paper he had pushed across my desk. The tale was too fantastic, too ludicrous to be based in fact. I looked up into his cold grey eyes expecting them to be as fogged and glassy as those of the opium addicts that slept on the wharfs. I saw only the resolute steely gaze that had challenged charlatans, swindlers, schemers and quacks of every stripe since he had disembarked from the HMS Tenerife nearly five years ago.

His father and I had served in the Russian War together, shoulder to shoulder for three full years and more, first on the Crimean Peninsula then later in the Baltic. My fortunes being considerably less than those of the family Taggert, I had made my way to the Americas after the Congress of Paris had ratified the treaty and I had managed to establish a successful business of supplying foodstuffs for those hardy souls following the Emigrant Trails west. When I had received the electrical telegraph announcing the imminent arrival of young Thompson my spirits soared; It had been nearly a decade since I had seen the lad and now that the war of secession had drawn to a bitter close my adopted home would need young men of his ability and character.

The words on that sheaf of paper nearly assaulted my sensibilities. I stood up slowly, my jaw slack as if the muscles had suddenly atrophied. My hand trembled slightly as I digested the import of what my eyes beheld. If there was but a modicum of truth to the outlandish story then the world was about to discover that there are horrors and cruelties beyond those perpetrated by men on battlefields, and clearly beyond the imagination of even the most Laudanum dependent Transcendentalist.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Twangy Guitar Sounds

                                                             On The Lake

That one guy playing lead guitar
The San Francisco sound at it's most convoluted
Emphasizing fluid chord changes and intersections
That defy traditional melodic arrangements
Such as those found in the works of Ludwig B.
He changed horses mid-river
Became a defense lawyer
And good at it
He celebrated his 65th birthday last week
Now and then he still picks a few leads
And has been known to tour for the summer
With a few old friends
Makes you wonder if any any of the Judges 
Listening to him make an impassioned plea for a client
Looked at him and couldn't see past the fact
That he was once "the Fish"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey and Gender Double Standards

                                                 Watercolor, Spring 2012, C. Bakunas

   There are a series of books currently holding the top spot on the NY Times bestsellers list. It is a trilogy going by the collective title Shades of Grey. The three books, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, & Fifty Shades Freed, are the story of a young college graduate and her relationship with a billionaire who has a penchant for BDSM.

It is the single fastest selling paperback collection of all time.

It is soft-core porn geared towards women, and it's more proof, at least for me, that the double-standard is still solidly in place.

Costco does not sell Playboy. Costco will never sell Playboy. But Costco has boxes and boxes of all three books.

In the course of the two trips I've made in the past month I have seen women reading the books, in the airports, on the planes, in the little overpriced bars in the terminals. Hell, the book was being sold at the newsstands of four of the five airports I was recently in.

At La Guardia, two women were discussing the books while I tried to read an Adobe Photoshop Elements instruction guide. To say it was distracting would be saying the sky is blue. Two women publicly describing to each other what chapters of a soft-core porn novel turned them on the most is pretty damn distracting, especially when you are a flaming heterosexual male.

I have watched debates on morning talk shows about how the series appeals to frustrated housewives (It's been dubbed "Mommy Porn") and how it has spiced up relationships for previously bored couples. There are learned, intelligent pundits out there who are stating without embarrassment that this little trilogy is giving women, young & old, a chance to explore and indulge their sexual fantasies and that if it enhances their real-life sex lives and intimacy, hurrah, hurrah!


I have two problems with this.

First, the aforementioned double standard. What double standard you may ask?

See that little watercolor illustration I painted up there? Think you'll ever see it for sale in any airport, anywhere, ever? No, and not just because it's a fairly innocuous, almost pedestrian bit of pin-up.

It, and nothing even remotely resembling it, will not be for sale at any airport, anywhere, ever, because it's primary audience is heterosexual males. That's the double standard.

"Hah!" The protests are made! "You can buy Details, FHM, Maxim, etc. in airports everywhere!"

Those magazines are the equivalent of Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Glamour. The only difference is the gender targeted, and the fact that there is far more sex and actual nudity in Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Glamour.

Heterosexual male fantasy is primarily visual. Titillating pictures of women, clothed or nude, stimulate heterosexual men, kick-starts their imaginations - and we can't have that now, can we?

I mentioned Costco will never sell Playboy. Neither will Wal-Mart, or Target, etc. Company Policy. And chew on this - for years Costco, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. would not sell the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. The few stores that did sell the SI swimsuit issue, did so with provisions such as it being kept behind the counter, or sealed in a plastic bag (That's how my local supermarket, King Soopers, sold it for years. This is the same local supermarket that currently has a table covered in stacks of the Fifty Shades trilogy - just like Wal-Mart & Target).

Why? because the primary audience for the SI swimsuit issue is...heterosexual males. Find me a supermarket, convenience store, bookstore, etc., that has printed material geared towards heterosexual males on readily accessible display. They don't exist. All the magazines and books for hetero men are behind the counter or wrapped in sealed plastic bags.

Go ahead, check it out next time you're in a Barnes & Noble or 7-11.

Heterosexual males have never been able to publicly indulge their sexual fantasies. Never. Anybody who thinks that is a false statement is ignorant of history. Anything that might in the slightest be interpreted as something that might get a hetero man aroused has been labeled as mature subject matter and kept out of sight of those who might be offended.

If a bit of soft core porn came down the pike that encouraged hetero men to explore and indulge their sexual fantasies, think there will be talk show symposiums hailing it as a good thing because it enhances hetero men's sex lives? Think huge amounts of floor space will be given over to it in department stores and major book retailers?

Doubtful. Maybe Howard Stern would do something.

I can hear the protest fairly clearly: "Are you blind? Do you not see all the porn that is available for hetero men? It's everywhere! Get on the Internet! It will slap you right upside your head!"

That protest misses the point. The Internet is used privately for such, not public. I cannot use the computers at any library in the state of Colorado to access anything that is remotely considered porn (there are big signs at every computer stating that your library privileges will be revoked if you do), but all three Fifty Shades books can be checked out. By anyone. Or read in the library in one of their big comfy chairs.

Wait, there is more from the protesters: "Haven't you seen all the T & A that's in advertising? All the nudity in films and even on television? You can't claim that you've never been to a Hooters or a Twin Peaks! Look at all the Strip Clubs!"

Short reply: All the T & A in advertising, all the nudity in any media, all the restaurants such as Hooters, Twin Peaks, Tilted Kilt, etc., and especially all the Strip Clubs, only feature scantily clad or nude women for one purpose. 

To separate heterosexual males from their money.

Not one beer commercial, not one cleavage-baring waitress, not one pole-dancing exhibition, has ever existed for the purpose of allowing a hetero male to "let go" or be "proud and open about his sexuality" or "spark sexual thoughts and feelings" that will allow him to "indulge secret fantasies". It's all been done for good ol' moola.

BTW, everything in quotations in the previous paragraphs are from actual reviews of Fifty Shades - I just switched the gender pronouns.

Even shorter reply: The sole purpose of using anything that may remotely stimulate a hetero man in a public forum has always been to take advantage of his libido for profit.

For centuries people who have used women in the sex trade, in any way, mean, or form, have all been labeled as exploiters of women. There is no doubt truth to that, but what has been overlooked is the fact that those people also exploited men, to the nth degree. They made fortunes taking advantage of the hetero male libido.

Hetero men are not slaves to their libido, they are enslaved by it. 

The list of people who have done anything that appeals to the hetero male libido without the sole intent of making profit off it... doesn't exist.

My second problem with the Fifty Shades phenomena is a little more complex, and personal. I may not be capable of putting it all here for the world to view, but I will take a serious stab at it.

Critics of media that incorporate words and pictures depicting women in what could be interpreted as of a sexually exploitative manner and intended to appeal to hetero males have stated that such material distorts the image of women, objectifies the female body, and presents a seriously twisted idea of how male/female sexual relations should work.

I agree, and further, I state it works both ways. From personal experience.

My generation of hetero men, those born after the publication of Sex & The Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Freidan, and the advent of the Women's Liberation Movement, have grown up in a world wherein we were told it was most definitely not a man's world.

I, having been raised by a single mom and three older sisters, really had that hammered into me.

My generation of hetero men was the first generation that always had the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the law that prohibited discrimination in hiring based on sex, race, etc. We always had the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which, with the exception of occupations that have legitimate reasons for wage discrepancy (blue-collar jobs that require intensive labor and long overtime hours, such as mining) has pretty much eliminated the wage gap (Go ahead, name me a job in which a man and woman with the exact same education, skills, experience and ability, doing the exact same work for the exact same time period get different rates of pay. Lawyers will be parachuting in before you can blink.)

My generation of hetero men have always been told "No means no". We've always been aware of what marital and date rape is, we've always known that domestic violence is never, ever acceptable.

And now we have this Fifty Shades trilogy, and millions upon millions of women eating it up. Couple that with all the praise being heaped upon it, and what do we have for the average hetero male?

Confusion, and the same seriously twisted idea of how male/female relations should work that critics of hetero male targeted porn say hetero men get.

Oh yes, the protests are starting again: "It's only fantasy! No woman wants to be a rape victim! No woman wants to be beaten and controlled like that! The girl in the story is just indulging in a desire to explore sexual taboos without having to be thought of as a slut or whore because she's not responsible for what she's being made to do..."

Right. Shoe, meet other foot. Hetero male porn is fantasy too, just like James Bond and The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen. Only difference, indulging in hetero male porn gets you crucified, vilified, etc.

Fifty Shades, and Erotica (as women like to label their porn), can do exactly to a woman's perception of what a male/female relationship should be as the critics of hetero male porn contend it does to hetero male perceptions of M/F relationships

Now for a little bit of personal revelation. I was once involved in a relationship with a woman that I had thought was pretty damn special. (Long since over, it remains the longest relationship with a woman I've ever had)

One afternoon, about two years into our relationship, I paid a visit to her workplace with a fresh bouquet of roses in hand (I bought this particular woman a dozen roses about every two weeks - I have bought one woman flowers, once, since that relationship ended well over a decade ago).

She was out of her office at the time I was delivering the roses, but as everyone who worked there knew me, I was allowed to dispose of the old flowers and put the new bouquet in the vase.

Except I needed scissors to cut the stems, and as I couldn't find a pair on top of her desk, I looked inside the center drawer.

Where I found a BDSM lifestyle magazine, and a mail order catalog for BDSM apparel, toys, etc.

An ant could have pushed me right out the window. I was stunned. However, I quickly finished with the flowers (the scissors were in the top drawer) and left. I needed to get out of the building and digest what I had just seen.

When she got home that night I wasted no time confronting her about what I'd seen. Of course I had to endure accusations about invading her privacy, disrespecting her, etc., but I held my ground, stayed focused on the issue (anyone who has ever had a debate with me knows this to be a major accomplishment) and did not relent until she finally told me what the hell it was all about.

She revealed to me then (uhm, did I mention we had been in a relationship for about two years, and actually living together for over a year?) that she had fantasies about being a sex slave, being kept by a Master, and everything that goes with it (Look it up, I have no desire to describe the BDSM lifestyle). Seems she had been reading the literature online for some time, and had printed out a few of her favorite stories. She'd even joined chat rooms in which she could play out the role of a slave with an anonymous Master.

Now, at this point in our relationship, I was as committed to it and her as much as a man can possibly be. So I told her that, if this was what she wanted, this is what we'll do. I decided to learn all I could about the scene, and learn how to be a qualified Master for her.

I gave it my best. However, I just didn't have it in me. Oh, I could get into the activities, the bondage, blindfolds, collars, paddles, etc., and play out the whole Master/slave bit (She even found us a "contract" online that we both would abide by, and we agreed upon safewords, the powershare, etc.) But seriously, It wasn't my cup of tea, and it really soured my desire for her.

Again, to make it short; our relationship ended about a year afterward. 

I hear voices of protest again: "Hey, everybody is entitled to his or her choice of pleasures, and just because she didn't have the capability to tell you hers when you two first met, and it resulted in your relationship ending and your poor little heart getting broken, it doesn't mean you have the right to condemn women around the world for the momentary happiness they find in the Fifty Shades trilogy".

Actually, it does. It is the apogee of hypocrisy to say it doesn't, especially in this day and age. It's a double standard to say it doesn't.

But wait, there's more.

It didn't end with her. The very next woman I became involved with revealed to me (early on) that she was into the BDSM scene and also wanted to be a slave. As I was enamored/infatuated with this woman, I again tried my best to indulge her, but to no avail. It was over quickly, and no hearts were broken, so what about it?

My luck got worse, that's what. The next woman I got involved with after that happened to be a woman I had known years before, a whole lifetime ago. We got back in touch with each other via email, and after a couple of months, got together in person.

...And eventually she told me she wanted to be a slave in a BDSM relationship. At this point I was becoming convinced that this was what all women want, and if I was to have a successful relationship, I had better learn how to be an effective Master.

But I couldn't get into it, just couldn't. It had been ingrained in me to treat women with respect, to be affectionate, to never raise my hand or voice to a woman, that a controlling man was a bad man, etc. 

So that relationship came to an end.

I was now convinced I was somewhat of a Freak Magnet. None of my friends would argue the point.

So I decided then that I was going to start asking the women I got involved with right from the get go what they liked, what they wanted. I would ask at least three times. I would ask almost to the point of exasperation for the women I was with to tell me exactly what it was they wanted.

Before anyone starts thinking that I was interrogating these women, no, I wasn't. It was always done in the natural course of conversation - you know full well what I mean.

And almost without exception the only reply I would get (If I would even get a reply - women want more communication in the bedroom my ass) was "I don't really know, whatever you like is fine."

Which was the answer the first BDSM devotee had always given me until the truth came out, so I became convinced that all women wanted to be dominated, especially in the bedroom. They all wanted to be tied up, they all wanted to be spanked.

Except not all women actually do. Some do not at all. Unfortunately, I would only find that out after I initiated the actions, which of course resulted in a number of women I really liked coming to the conclusion that I was a weirdo and getting away from me as fast as they could.

So, the last few women I've been with, I've applied the "ask three times" rule. I ask three times, and if I get no definitive answer, I bail. Screw the guessing games.

I have had a few conversations with women about the Fifty Shades trilogy in the past couple of weeks (They are actually what sparked this rant). 

One of the conversations was via text, and it was basically me decrying the whole BDSM thing. I have grown to dislike that scene so.

The other conversation was at a restaurant, and it was with a woman who had told me some time ago that she hated being spanked, and hated guys who were control freaks. However, during the course of the conversation that night she said, verbatim, "I would love to met a guy like Christian Grey".

I got up and left the restaurant, and despite a few text from her wondering what had upset me and asking me to talk to her, I haven't, and I won't. I'm damn tired of being mislead.

So there you go, my two problems with the whole Fifty Shades dealio - the double standard, and the way crap like that contorts a woman's perception of what a relationship should be.

I've become the male Andrea Dworkin. Damn.

Disclaimer. I, in no way, mean, or form would ever attempt to regulate or censor what a consenting adult finds titillating, provided it does not harm or take advantage of another human being.

Okay, I confess, the personal revelations crap was just me being whiny, but I had to get it off my chest....

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Blind Leading The Sun-baked

                                          Everybody Needs A Little Balance

Let's say you were born with an overwhelming desire
To speak only in the sub-dialect of a Romanian language
Which resulted, of course
In quite a bit of misinterpretation
Would you persist
At the risk
Of being misconstrued
Each and every time you opened your mouth?


Monday, June 18, 2012

Critical Awareness Of My Shortcomings

       The Japanese Term For Classic Woodblock Prints Of Beautiful Women Is Bijinga

Walk right into a conversation and just interject
As if nothing being said was of any import
Assume people want to hear what I have to say
Never doubt for a moment I'm not of compelling interest
And should be noticed

Yep, in a nutshell, right to the proverbial T
There's a little voice inside screaming
"Look at me!"
Maybe, just maybe, just this once
There will be a moment of modesty

If I make the effort I know I can shine
But I need your attention for it to happen
All of you, look this way
And then start heaping on the praise
For all the wonderful, magical, truly inspirational

Some of you will probably not be able to relate
You may have some other means of elevating your own self worth
Not this kid, I need attention, I need affection
For my perception of myself to make sense
I need some good ol' fashioned appreciation

Though, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to accomplish something first....