Saturday, November 17, 2018

That Jewish Stuff

"That Jewish Stuff." That's what my mom calls it. 

I hadn't heard her call it that before. Not in those words. Keep in mind that my mom is a big fan and also a practitioner of therapy. She's always telling me to "get some therapy" and that my kids should have therapy. When she saw some signs of anxiety in Paige, she told me I should nip it in the bud and "get her some therapy."

"I wish I'd gotten you some therapy when you were younger," she said, referring to my bouts with eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. "This is just in our DNA. It's that Jewish stuff." She was referring, of course, to the genetically-encoded hereditary disposition to anxiety and depression that Jews typically experience. Epigenetic trauma is not a well-studied science, and what studies have been done cast doubt on the concept of trauma—which Jews have had a bunch of—as printable on DNA.

But it's as much a cultural thing as a DNA thing. My generation of Jewish children was only one generation removed from the Holocaust. We grew up hearing horror stories and could trace immediate family members to concentration camps. We were taught to bristle at the sound of the German language and to fear German Shepherds and boycot German products. We were always on some sort of high alert. We were communicated this idea that the Holocaust was around every corner and we should have our passports ready to flee.

It wasn't a constant onslaught of this message. It happened in hushed tones and whispers almost absorbed through the ether. I was raised by a Romanian Holocaust survivor who had fled to Israel and then America, and she wasn't shy about sharing her experiences, no matter how terrified or young I was. It was communicated that you don't reveal you are Jewish in mixed company unless you have to, but among Jews you code-switch and pepper your speech with Yiddish.

It was like living with the idea that the Bogeyman is real.

And I think all of this fear, be it inherited or learned, just has a psychological impact. My generation of Jewish children also grew up during a sort of halcyon time that allowed us to assimilate and take full advantage of the privileges of white skin. The period of domestic prosperity and tranquility between Vietnam and 9/11 was the exception, not the rule. And so sliding into darker times feels like The Moment™ is Here. At all times, we are ready to fight or flee in The Moment.

We are especially on guard about Trump and rising anti-Semitism, or most of us are. Many of us hustle hard for broad social justice because we know what happens when people don’t. We are primed to fear persecution for our intellectual work, abilities, or incomes. We have had property stolen from us and we are scared. 

And though I can’t speak for them, I imagine it's the same for ancestors of colonized and enslaved POC. I think people who have been colonized, persecuted, or enslaved simply experience persecution and threats differently. We feel them differently, more viscerally. And it makes it hard to stay sane, make good decisions, or maintain objectivity or hope.

But still you have to, because what else can you do?




Friday, November 16, 2018

OMG, Sophie Scholl is My New Shero

Full confession. 

I had no idea who Sophie Scholl was until this week, when a friend messaged me this photo from somewhere in cyberspace. I think she sent it to me because I often fume that too few people in positions of power and privilege are willing to take the personal risks necessary to advance social justice and advocate for real change in the world. 

Sophie Scholl’s very last words reflect the same sentiment, so I immediately went down an internet rabbit hole to read about her life, and to say this woman (a girl, really) was a bad bitch is the understatement of the century.

She’s been on my mind ever since.

You can go on Wikipedia yourself for her whole life story, but the gist is she was a Lutheran white girl in Nazi Germany who was having less than none of the Third Reich’s efforts to Hitler Youth-ify her. She spent the formative years of her very short life non-violently and intellectually resisting dictatorship as part of the White Rose Society. She was ultimately arrested for distributing anti-Nazi literature, convicted in a show trial, and executed a mere hours later by guilliotine.

Seriously you guys. Nazis chopped off a 21 year-old girl’s head for passing out written opposition to their genocidal bullshit. And by all accounts, Sophie sauntered off
 to the gallows with her soon-to-be-decapitated head held high and these words on her lips:
How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?
Sophie Scholl was walking the walk of righteous wokeness before it was cool, and she walked it straight to her own execution like it was NOTHING. 

Unlike me, who pretends to be badass AF for getting called a cunt on the internet sometimes and enduring the occasional empty threat to my body and livelihood from wannabe Nazis, Sophie proudly marched to her death in an enormous fuck you to *actual* Nazis!

The thing that amazes me most is that she didn’t have to do any of this. She could have just been a Nazi. She wasn’t Jewish and she wasn’t at risk of being persecuted herself. She was simply a member of the dominant Aryan culture who recognized that what was happening around her was unbelievably fucked up, and she decided it was worth resisting and dying to show the whole world how fucked up it really was. 

Talk about next-level allyship.

The very least I can do is read her Wikipedia page and put her on blast as my new number one shero. Sophie Scholl is #ResistanceGoals.




Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Alaska Fugitive Starter Kit

Just look at these four “good country people,” as their pastor called them. Don’t their mugshots make you want them for your neighbors? Not so much? 

Welp, turns out these wholesome Ohioans allegedly massacred 8 people (including their daughter/grandchild’s mother) execution-style over a custody dispute and went on the lam to the place where all such citizens go when they’re fugitives from the law: 

Alaska!

If you’ve lived here for any amount of time, you know that there are four main types of Alaska transplants: (1) people who follow peen/poon here; (2) people who follow a job here; (3) people who vacation or work here in the summer and decide to move here in the winter for some stupid reason; and (4) criminal fugitives trying to escape the long arm of the Lower-48 law.

I’m in categories (2) and (3) myself. Turns out Billy and Angela Wagner and their kids Jake and George fall into categories (3) and (4), so I guess we have at least one thing in common. As the ADN reports, the Wagners first visited Seward and then decided to make Kenai their permanent home when they needed to shake the heat they were getting for murdering an entire family on a farm in their sleep like a fucking Truman Capote book.

Which is no surprise, because all category (4) transplants have what I call the Alaska Fugutive Starter Kit, and in addition to an arrest warrant (obvi) here’s what’s in it:

1. Zero knowledge of Alaska: Alaska fugitives have a vague fantasy that Alaska is Mars; that there’s no such thing as the internet or law enforcement. They just know that there are bears and moose and snowflakes and lots of woods to hide in and it’s very far away from whatever meth hole they came from. Good enough!

2. Vague ties to a fringe church: Invariably, Alaska fugitives are members of some questionable church you’ve never heard of, whose central tenets are memorizing obscure scripture to overcompensate for and/or justify the commission of felonies.

3. Plaid: You need plaid. If you don’t own plaid, go on the lam to Hawaii!

4. A face that looks like it just met the business end of a 5 iron: See these faces? Especially the dad. You need a face like that to be a legit Alaska fugitive.

5. A janky truck: You can’t head up the Al-Can without a trusty rig! It’s simply not fugitive style to fly here. Plus, there’s TSA to worry about. So natch, the Wagners sold their farm, put all their shit in a flatbed and horse trailer and “drove north.”

Those are the key elements of the Alaska Fugitive Starter Kit. Pro tip: don’t go on the lam without ‘em!




Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Pushing the Limits

I know a lot of people who do extreme sports and activities. This is Alaska, after all. Paragliding, big backcountry skiing and snowboarding, ice climbing. I don't do any of that shit. I hike and I ski and I love being outside, but I'm way too much of a wimp to get my pilot's license or take an avalanche class or jump off Mt. Roberts on a piece of canvas.

I'm fascinated, though, by all my friends who do this stuff. It seems SO SCARY to me. And the most interesting thing is that they all describe the exact same feeling: the adrenaline rush, the adventure, the sense of pushing a boundary. The focus it takes to get wherever they are trying to go. The ever-present specter of consequences.

That's sort of how I feel about writing and speaking my mind and "living my truth" or whatever. It's like I've new-agedly "set an intention" to be unapologetically and very publicly myself in the hopes that I reach people and open new perspectives for myself and others. You can call it over-sharing, but I just call it my hobby and overall it's very rewarding.

I understand that this particular hobby comes with risks. In the four years I've been writing O.H.M., many people--mostly men and older women--have given me a ton of unsolicited advice about what I should do and say on here. It's all cloaked in benevolent concern, but it feels like repression and accusation to me--with the implicit/explicit message that I should be embarrassed and afraid.

I should curse less. I should have ads. I shouldn't talk about vibrators. I shouldn't have my face in my profile. I should worry about being too frank. I should worry about my kids (I don't write about my kids as much anymore, and never without their permission). I should worry about my job. I should change this or do that or the other thing. And it's all sort of in service of this vaguely patriarchal concept that overall I should be less. I should chill, because I am "too much," and "too much" is dangerous. That I should say less and say it more quietly and safely, and be less salty and aggressive or something, and I guess I just don't want to do that.

My poor mom. 

I let her come to her grandkids' parent-teacher conferences when she was visiting last week and she was amazed. "I never got a good report like that about you," she said. "I dreaded parent-teacher conferences. Elizabeth went to the principal's office. Elizabeth fell out of her chair again. Elizabeth talked in class. Elizabeth spoke out of turn. Elizabeth is distracting the other students. Elizabeth fell out of her chair again."

She said the chair thing twice, because I guess I fell out of my chair a lot. And someone was always telling me to get back in it. And I guess now that I'm an adult, I'm just gonna sit back and fall over in my chair every day on the internet, because I fucking feel like it and no one can stop me. 




Monday, November 12, 2018

Four Great Pieces of Advice for All Adult Human Interactions

Here are four great pieces of advice my mom, a psychiatrist, gave me. Whether it's a personal or professional relationship with an adult, it helps to frame your interactions this way:


1. IT'S NOT WHAT HAPPENS, IT'S HOW YOU REMEMBER IT. It's not that what happens to you doesn't matter. It matters. But for most things, what matters most--what is most impactful--is how you remember them, and not the details of what occurred at the time. Everyone remembers the same event differently. This is called the Roshomon Effect. For example, my mom worked full time when I was young, but she made a real effort to come home every evening and not travel for work. However, what I remember is that she worked a lot. I don't remember all of the efforts she made to spend with me. That's a bummer for her, of course. But at least in terms of my own psyche, my perception is bigger than the reality. The way we perceive the past, in other words, is just as significant if not more so than what the past actually was.

2. IT'S NEVER ABOUT WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE ABOUT. By the time you become an adult, you've become sensitized to react to different things in particular ways. Everyone has different sensitivities that make them react--their "triggers." A casual interaction can be experienced as rejection or offense, for example, because you are primed to see it that way. You are primed to interpret things in the slanted way you've learned to in your childhood. And the more trivial the encounter, the more skeptical you should be about your reaction. This allows you to stay calm. It helps you understand that if someone is being infantile or unreasonable, for example, you didn't make them infantile or unreasonable. People behave the way they've learned to behave long before they ever met you. Acknowledging this allows you to assess human interactions more objectively. 


3. IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. Ninety percent of a person's behavior has nothing to do with you. When you're a kid, you don't see that, because children are narcissists and believe they cause everything around them. As an adult, you can work to overcome the narcissism of childhood and acquire the ability to see that this isn't the case. Most human behavior is driven by pre-existing bias, prejudice, character, and coping mechanisms. When you understand that negative behavior directed at you isn't really about you, you have the chance to examine a more useful question: what someone else's behavior tells you about who they are. 

4. YOU CAN'T UNDO YOUR CHILDHOOD INJURIES THROUGH EXTERNAL SOLUTIONS. Children adopt coping mechanisms to deal with their powerlessness, and adults often try to deploy those same mechanisms in adulthood. They fail, though, because you can't fix what's already happened. In other words, you can't change the past. This is what Freud called the "repetition compulsion." The wish that things hadn't happened the way they did, and an attempt to "undo" adverse childhood occurrences by manipulating external circumstances in adulthood. All you can do is understand the impact of the past, and, critically, the fact that you have agency to move in another direction. You need an adult approach to leave childhood baggage behind. You're never going to relive your childhood in a way that reconciles and fixes things. You can't make it a goal to undo it. A new external experience won't change what happened a long time ago. In other words, the repetition compulsion is the opposite of choice. But as an adult you have agency, and you can choose another path.




Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Government of Laws, and Not of Men

Are we a government of laws, or of men? That’s the central question famously posed by Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973, and raised anew by Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions this week. 

Our modern-day Watergate moment is here. 

Robert Mueller’s sprawling investigation into possible collusion between the President’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government has quietly shadowed American democracy for the past two years. Never in my lifetime has the fabric of our Constitution, our values, our collective conscience, and our humanity been placed under the kind of relentless stress we have seen since Trump assumed office. 

Each day seems to bring a new outrage and affront to our ideals. Children in cages. Doctored propaganda from the White House. Mail bombs to political opponents. Media banned from accessing the government and called the people’s enemy. Dictatorial rallies. White supremacist dog whistles. Brainwashed friends and family. Lie upon lie upon provable lie. And if we are paying even the slightest bit of attention at all, we are overwhelmed, disoriented, despairing and more divided than ever.

But we as a nation have to keep our eye on the ball. We must use our time and our voices to assert that we are Americans who care about and will insist upon application of the rule of law. 

As Trump replaces Sessions—perhaps unconstitutionally—with a loyalist who like the President has called Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt,” we must again return to that central question of the Watergate era. People in power come and go but we remain Americans regardless. Are we a nation of laws, or of people?

The answer to that question is the true test of our patriotism.




Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Only My Giant Pores Can Make Me Sad!

Despair. That’s the only word I have. It’s only been 24 hours since the election, but whatevs. WHAT. EVS! Forget about the election. This is about my pores. Specifically, my enlarged nose and cheek pores.

I’m happy to report that only my ginormous nose and cheek pores can make me sad right now. That’s why I keep a 10x magnifying mirror and a tweezer in my purse at all times—so that I can pluck any stray hairs on my face and examine the circumference of my gargantuan nose and cheek pores in order to properly gauge my despair.

Yes, I take 20 mg of Prozac every morning and get heartburn if I don’t swallow it with water—which can you believe it? I sometimes do not! Because I am so lazy I can’t even be bothered to open a tap after I’ve opened a pill bottle. I can only open so much shit per day, and I have to save some of my opening energy for bills and car doors.

Yes, I am addicted to M&Ms and Mike & Ikes which are also the size and color of pills and just as terrible for you. Big Sugar and Big Pharma are in cahoots. Yes, I am a Jewess (is that even a thing anymore, or did that word die with Shakespeare?) in a gerrymandered white supremacist Potemkin village sham democracy with no change in sight. Yes, half my fellow citizens probably secretly/openly want to turn me into a bar of Ivory soap after they loot my house of all of its ill-begotten Jew goods.

Yes, I live in a melting resource colony and crypto-kleptocracy owned lock, stock, and barrel by Big Oil C-suite cowboy doofuses in bolo ties. Yes, the best STEM education my fifth grade daughter and budding petro-chemist received this year came with a T-shirt and swag from Exxon.

Yes, I feel temporarily better about all of the above when I can stand out in the sideways rain screaming into the void about toddlers trying to escape cages via a release form signed in Crayola and women who have been forcibly suffocated by Supreme Court justices as teenagers. 

And now an astrophysicist at Harvard thinks a “mysterious cigar-shaped object spotted tumbling through our solar system last year” is a sign that aliens are finally—FINALLY—making contact with our broiling little rock!

But it’s the pores—not the poors—that really move my needle of despair in one direction or another.

For the sake of one’s sanity, it’s important to be circumspect about the sources of despair we can control and those we cannot. And keeping my entire face from turning into one supernova size- black hole of a pore via the use of toners, serums, face masks, and other anti-aging snake oil is one of them. I don’t mean to be daft, but really it’s all about the pores.

Give me your wrinkles, your pores
Your tiny blackheads yearning to pop free
That wretched face of forty years or more
Send these, your hard-earned bucks to me!
With two day shipping youth can now be yours!




Tuesday, November 6, 2018

An Alaskan Witch Spell

WITCH 1: Thrice the Taku Winds hath blown!
WITCH 2: Thrice and once, the marmot whined!
WITCH 3: One Hot Mess cries:—it is time!

WITCH 1: Round about the cauldron go;
In the bear potato throw—
Slug, that under frozen rime
Days and nights has forty-nine;
Sticky duct tape, trawler’s knot
Boil thou first in a crab pot!

ALL: Double, double toil and trouble; 
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

WITCH 2: Fillet of a sockeye steak,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of moose, and tooth of whale,
Wool of muskox, garden snail
Puffin’s beak, mosquito’s sting,
Dall sheep’s horn and eagle's wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a home-brew boil and bubble.

ALL: Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

WITCH 3: Shell of spot-prawn; tooth of wolf;
Six pound sculpin from the Gulf
Beard of raven, salmon shark;
Root of spruce digg'd in the dark;
Liver of a grizzly bear
Palin’s glasses, snowshoe hare
Snared beneath the Northern Lights
Tail of lynx, and Husky bite
Cloven hoof of caribou
Dragged ashore from ‘neath a slough
Add thereto some North Slope oil
Before we bring it to a boil

ALL: Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

WITCH 2: Cool it with some glacial ice
Then the charm is firm and nice.




Sunday, November 4, 2018

I Feel Daunted by the Enormity of the Worlds Grief

I think that's really what's going on with me today. I simply feel daunted by the enormity of the world's grief, although the Talmud says not to be.

I've been thinking about the Talmud, and the Jewish concept of Tikun Olam. Tikun Olam is "a Jewish concept defined by acts of kindness performed to perfect or repair the world. The phrase is found in the Mishnah, a body of classical rabbinic teachings. It is often used when discussing issues of social policy, insuring a safeguard to those who may be at a disadvantage."

I didn't grow up with religion and I don't believe in God. But I've always identified as Jewish, of course. Both my parents are Jewish and their parents were and their parents and theirs forever and ever. I wasn't surprised to find that my 23&Me came back as 95% Ashkenazi Jewish, with the remaining 5% North African and Middle Eastern. And I know that means I am not fully safe in this world and never will be. I am fully aware that my white skin gives me the advantage of passing as part of white America but that I am not really of their world.

So what is bothering me today, exactly? Both nothing, and everything.

It's not the veiled (or not so veiled) anti-Semitic red and black Nazi-colored campaign literature that found its way into the mailboxes of my neighbors this week, bearing the name of a prominent Jewish candidate for public office and depicting a man shoving wads of cash in his jacket pocket, an ancient stereotype of Jews as usurers and thieves, borne of their being confined to financial professions by persecution and law.

It's not the response of the women responsible for this advertisement, their eye-rolling, bullshitty form email implying that our offense and outrage, and that of our allies, was "liberal intolerance." It wasn't even learning that people (women!) who for years have tried to use my constitutionally-protected opinions and speech to try to ruin my real life are at it yet again. It wasn’t my parents visiting, them getting older and leaving tomorrow after a long and wonderful visit.

It wasn't any of these things that even felt personal to me. It was simply the enormity of the world's grief. 

The families of every child shot in a preventable mass shooting. Or every worshipper in a church or a synagogue or mosque. LGBTQ youth who are beaten or driven from their homes and unable to live their lives openly. Families who are fleeing gang warfare only to arrive in the United States and have their children locked in cages. Indigenous peoples whose stolen lands I am living on. The constant micro-aggressions that people not in white skin live with daily. The hopeless feeling that the deck is stacked against all of us. That not even voting will help, because of how hard voting is made to be, and how intractable the greed-fueled power structure feels.

I was at Isaac's 8th birthday party today, trying to be cheerful as I stood in an elementary school gymnasium with little boys running around my feet. But I started crying talking to one of the moms about all of this. Another had just finished canvassing for a candidate and I teared up about that. Another told me she worked as a special education teacher and I cried and thanked her for doing that. 

Because whatever I do, it never feels like enough. Thanking these people for their work doesn't feel like enough.

It doesn't feel like enough to defend myself and my career against slander. It doesn't feel like enough to spend thousands of dollars of my own money (yes, my own money, not the ACLU's) to travel to DC to advocate for sexual assault victims, or to do data entry for an immigration justice project or to plan a trip to Texas. It doesn't feel like enough to sit on boards here in Juneau and phone bank and write my blog. 

And so I come back to the Talumd:

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. 
Do justly, now. 
Love mercy, now. 
Walk humbly now. 
You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

It doesn't feel like enough to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly now, knowing I will never complete this work and feeling so much pushback while trying all the same.




Saturday, November 3, 2018

Lose Weight Off Your Conscience FAST With This One Weird Trick!

If you’ve tried to lose weight off your conscience in the past, you probably struggled with guilt, low energy, and mediocre results that just didn’t stick. Voting* was designed to help people just like you lose weight off your conscience quickly, keep it off, and feel good while you do it!

Ready to Lose Weight Off Your Conscience?

If you want to learn more or are ready to start feeling better than you ever thought possible, then make the effort to vote THIS TUESDAY!

How Does Voting Work?

Our program--also called "DEMOCRACY"--is simple and easy to follow. You’ll register to vote and then do ten minutes of internet research to learn about the candidates who are running, their positions on various policies, and any ballot initiatives that may appear on the ballot. You'll then go to your assigned polling place, wait in line (this might be a little inconvenient but it's worth it) and fill in a few little bubbles 
for the people and issues best customized to your body and goals.The food recommended with voting is tasty and satisfying and with the supplements that go along with voting you won’t feel hunger or cravings because voting has nothing to do with that exactly. Just bring a bag of Cheetos with you in case you have to wait awhile and get hungry.

Tired of Results that Don't Last?

Where many other conscience weight loss programs go wrong is that the results simply don’t last. That’s why with voting, you have access to a polling place to help build healthy, sustainable democratic forms of government that will last you and your children a lifetime. Did we mention that there is no exercise required to lose weight off your conscience with voting? Although exercise is important for overall health, the old saying “you can't complain if you don't vote” reflects the millions of Americans who fail to see the condition of our democracy improve, because they haven’t changed their voting habits. With voting, instead of spending hours every week in the gym, a quick trip to the ballot box keeps you on track, motivated, and makes an even bigger impact on your health and well-being.
What Is Unique About Voting?

Voting isn’t just the same old conscience weight loss program you’ve tried before, so if you've struggled with other plans or diets, don’t worry. What makes voting special is the regularly occurring elections our constitution prescribes make conscience weight loss fast and easy. 

Voting helps your body turn apathy into action. This means that your body will be burning with productive outrage and civic conviction like it's supposed to, rather than making you feel sad or enable fascism and indifference when you are watching TV instead. And even better, voting also helps keep your body from burning time complaining on Facebook, something that often happens on other conscience weight loss diets.
Can I Use My Insurance?

Your insurance may be affected by voting, but voting is free and many states even give time off for voting! Regardless of your insurance coverage, and even though some people want to suppress the shit out of your vote, say FUCK YOU to those people by making the effort to support democracy!
How Do I Sign Up for Voting?

To sign up, simply go to this page.

*Amount of conscience weight loss results vary based on program adherence, engagement with civic life, a sense of needing to uphold the social compact, and other possible mental conditions.






Thursday, November 1, 2018

Halloween Candy Pairings for the Trump Era

Sugar is the new tobacco, and nothing (except sugar) feels as good as a long drag off a cigarette that also hopefully contains weed. 

But when you can’t get that, you can easily access three straight months of sugar starting sometime in early October and going through Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter. Wai wai wait. That's actually SIX straight months of insulin shock!

During this time, we will ostensibly continue to live under the tiny thumb of our Sentient Cheeto Overlord, so it’s helpful to know what Halloween candy goes best with his lying tweets and outrageous policies.

Racism/Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: The undisputed most delicious Halloween candy—the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup—should be reserved for Trump’s most dominant personality trait: his white creamsicle (?) supremacy! From stoking the Birther movement to calling Nazis very fine people to declaring Mexicans rapists and murderers to concocting nonexistent caravans of middle eastern terrorists to putting Honduran babies in cages while threatening to shoot their parents and making them sign away their legal rights in crayon, the smooth, rich taste of real milk chocolate and peanut butter helps that hard-core racism go down smooth.

Flat-Eartherism/Nerds: These tiny, tangy colorful candy pebbles are an aptly named compliment to Trump’s self-proclaimed “natural instinct” for science. An instinct that has led him to posit that vaccines cause autism, that global warming is a Chinese Hoax, that the climate is actually “fabulous,” and that he has the “cleanest air” and also the most corrupt and underfunded EPA in the history of the country!

Misogyny/Snickers: Snickers satisfies you and so does grabbing women by the pussy, jamming an intemperate sexual assailant onto the United States Supreme Court, and calling your former mistress—a porn star with whom you cheated on your supermodel wife while she was home nursing your infant son—“horseface.” The triple threat of peanuts, caramel, and chocolate pair wonderfully with telling the First Lady of France that she’s in “good shape,” molesting teenaged beauty pageant contestants, and joking about dating your own daughter.

Corruption/Milky Way: Creamy nougat and chewy caramel go great with reading about Trump’s latest family member to gain state security clearance for no reason, or the newest pay-to-play real estate deal his lawyers and relatives have orchestrated with shady overseas banks in exchange for sweetheart government contracts, or the daily raid on the treasury effectuated by Trump’s seven zillionth day of golfing on his own golf courses.

Attacks on Free Press/Sour Patch Kids: These tart, flavorful fruity gummies pair beautifully with the 15th tinpot dictator campaign rally this week in which Trump calls the press the enemy of the people, tweets an all-caps 180-character screed about FAKE NEWS at 3:16 a.m., or commits stochastic terrorism by inciting one of his cult members to send pipe bombs to CNN.

Treason/M&Ms: Whether he’s yelling about a WITCH HUNT, maligning the FBI and his own Department of Justice, or obstructing justice with impulsive firings, the milk chocolate candy that melts in your mouth and not in your hand tastes pretty good when you’re sitting there reading irrefutable evidence of Russian meddling in American elections at Trump’s behest or benefit and wondering if Robert Mueller will ever turn the President from an “unindicted co-conspirator” to an indicted one.

Senile Inept Illiteracy/Tootsie Roll Pops: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop? Good question! At least as many as there are embarrassing and bizarre moments for any sane adult human, much less the leader of the free world. Using scotch tape as a tie clip, being incapable of closing an umbrella, boarding Air Force One with toilet paper on your shoe, misspelling “hereby” and “counsel” almost every time you type the words, and screaming playground insults at your political foes before threatening to jail them as you continue to use the Constitution for toilet paper all taste amazing with these flavorful little suckers.




Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Apollo 11 Landing of Self-Owns

I wish I’d come up with the title of this blog post myself, but that honor belongs to one of my readers from Cardiff, Wales named Phil Dore (YES, O.H.M. is WORLDWIDE, BITCHES!) And it could not be more perfect, because who Jacob Wohl is, what Jacob Wohl did, and how spectacularly Jacob Wohl failed at doing it is a feat of rocket science that only NASA could actualize.

Obviously, I spend entirely too much time trolling the President of the United States on Twitter (oh hi, 2018!), so I knew who Jacob Wohl was and hated his smarmy ass long before last week when he flew, Icarus-like, too close to the cyber-sun and melted his little alt-right wings trying to take down Robert Mueller. And how did he do that? Welp, by allegedly paying women to make false allegations of sexual assault against Mueller via a website linked to . . . wait for it . . . . HIS ACTUAL MOM’S PHONE NUMBER.

This is what passes for good news these days, Fam.

A 20 year-old Alex P. Keaton-meets-Logan Paul-meets your-straight-out-of-central-casting-young-federalist-MAGA-troll-dickweed trying to--and ACTUALLY BELIEVING--that he can frame one of the most experienced, serious, respected, ethical, and talented prosecutors in America with bullshit pussy blackmail traceable to his fucking MOM.

Madeleine Aggeler over at The Cut has a good breakdown of the entire sad, sordid story of the baby-faced hedge fund wunderkind whose main talent and raison d'etre is groveling at Trump on Twitter, self-promotion, and falling ass-backwards into a federal criminal investigation because YA DONE FUCKED UP THIS TIME, SON!

One of the things I find most amazing about wee little MAGAs like Jacob Wohl--whose most difficult life experience is a tie between losing Call of Duty to a girl and a dropped WiFi connection in his aforementioned mom’s basement—is how little they actually know compared to how much they THINK they know. 

Whether you’re talking about science, economics, elections, or blackmailing one of the smartest men in America with a slug of Trumpian lies generated in a dark web test tube with a half liter of Mountain Dew by your side, the gulf between those two metrics is wider than the distance between planet earth and the titular moon landing of this blog post.

Indeed, the moon is about 238,900 miles from the broiling little rock we call home. Coincidentally, this is the same distance between the IQ and competency of Jacob Wohl and that of Robert Mueller and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to which Jacob Wohl’s seventh grade-level prank has now been referred. 

An alternate headline for this scandal is “Bitch Who Thinks He’s Playing Three-Dimensional Chess is Actually Playing Candy Land and Just Got Sent Back to Start.”

This stunt is legitimately one step above a kid I knew back in the day who slashed the tires of a school bus and thought he wouldn’t get caught, because . . . No school bus, no school! GENIUS, RIGHT?! Same deal. Mueller grabs pussy during the MeToo era, Trump stays out of trouble! Like that’s the basic logic-level of the jackass we are dealing with here.

So when you look at the moon rise over the horizon tonight, I implore you to gaze up at it and smile as you remember the biggest, roundest, brightest self-own of the week.








Monday, October 29, 2018

Safety First! Checking Your Privilege

Check your privilege. BLAH BLAH BLAH. That’s all anyone ever says anymore! We’ve gotten so politically correct in this country that you can’t do anything without offending someone! Too many people are told to “check their privilege." That's why I put together this little safety/privilege check to see if you might be someone who needs to do that:

1. When you leave work to walk to your car in an empty parking garage at night alone you:

a. Carry your keys in your hand for use as a weapon
b. Keep your head down and walk as quickly as possible
c. Go into fight or flight mode when you hear footsteps behind you
d. What are you talking about I’m listening to music and texting my girlfriend.

2. When you’re driving down the highway and you hear a police car pull up behind you, you:

a. Question whether you will emerge from this transaction with a bullet in your head
b. Quickly try to determine what broken headlight or expired tag has led to this moment
c. Hope that dude's body cam is working and put that cell phone on video just in case
d. Wonder if the cop is your kid’s soccer coach and plan how to small talk your way out of a speeding ticket.

3. When you wave to your neighbors in the morning you:

a. Wonder if they would hide you in a barn or loot your house and make a lamp from your dead body
b. Wonder if they think you killed Jesus
c. Contemplate whether they believe that maybe you have horns
d. Forgot that you told them you’d get their mail while they were out of town.

4. At Halloween, you like to:

a. Wear blackface because you love Michael Jackson
b. Dress up like a Geisha because you love Japanese culture
c. Dress up like an Injun because you loved cowboys and Injuns when you were a lad!
d. All of the above, why the fuck is everyone so sensitive now?!

5. At work, you don’t get a promotion and are convinced it’s because:

a. Reverse sexism
b. Reverse racism
c. You weren’t qualified
d. Both a and b.

6. When you’re shopping and you hear someone behind you, you automatically assume:

a. You’re about to be accused of stealing
b. You’re about to be called a racial slur
c. Someone complained about the sound of your voice and/or called store security on you
d. A helpful sales clerk is about to ask if you’ve found everything okay.

7. When someone tells you they’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted you:

a. Instantly believe them.
b. Offer words of support
c. Give them information for a Rape Crisis hotline
d. Lecture them on the burden of proof, the rules of evidence in a criminal trial, and tell them to chill the fuck out.

8. Every July 4, you:

a. Google various immigration processes so you know where you can maybe go the shit goes down
b. Realize it doesn’t matter because the world is so globalized now
c. Feel like you’re thisclose to having your citizenship revoked
d. Deck out your pickup truck with bald eagles and flags and scream WHOO HOO AMERICA FUCK YEAH!

9. When you go to a restaurant with your partner you:

a. Wonder if you’re going to be called a homophobic slur
b. Make a calculated decision about what bathroom to use for fear of harassment
c. Take a careful account of your surroundings before holding hands
d. Order the chicken Ceasar salad because that’s what you always get here.

Hint: if you answered (d) to any of these questions, you passed the safety test and must check your privilege on the remainder!





Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Barn Test

The morning after the 2016 election, I remember having this thought distinctly: Who is going to shelter my family in a barn, and who's going to just turn their back on us and loot our house when I get hauled off to a concentration camp in a few years? 

I knew I was being ridiculous and hyperbolic and hysterical. But that's honestly what I thought. And I cried, because I knew when I went into work that morning that there were people IN MY OFFICE who had voted for Trump and who had therefore failed, to my mind, the Barn Test. They walk among us, I thought and wrote that day.

The woman that raised me, a Romanian Jew, lived the first five years of her life with her mother and two older sisters in a concentration camp in Eastern Europe. All of her stuff was gone when they finally returned home (their neighbors had taken it). My husband's grandmother fled the Nazis and hid in a barn in Poland at age 17. I, on the other hand, had the good fortune to be born and raised in the United States with white skin during a period of relative peace and prosperity, and I was told my whole life that it couldn't last forever.

Of course, not everyone who voted for Trump viewed their vote through the same lens of white supremacy that I did. 

White women voted for him in droves because his misogyny could be excused and ignored in light of his elevation of White Power. Some people thought he'd make us all rich. Others hated Hillary. But for me, it was very black and white, and it felt like a betrayal. A vote for Trump, it felt to me at the time, was a vote to sign my death warrant and that of so many other marginalized people. The presence of two Court Jews in Trump's family didn't make me feel any better. Not one bit.

After awhile, I abandoned my resentment of "Trump Voters.™ I realized that they had been conned and that resenting my fellow citizens, arguing with them on the internet, allowing hate to infiltrate my heart was both a waste of time, a stain on my soul, and the dirty work of fascism. I set it aside and practiced using my time and voice in affirmatively positive ways. 

I now genuinely harbor zero ill will towards people who voted for this mess because it's a waste of my time and energy and it doesn't change anything.

After yesterday's synagogue shooting--really just one more and particularly heinous affront in two years of newly-bold affronts against women, immigrants, LGBTQ people, people of color, and indigenous people--I came back to the Barn Test.

Fortunately, it's pretty easy to know who passes and fails the Barn Test. 

FAIL: A lot of people on the internet, especially community Facebook pages and comment boards. The girl who lived in my dorm at an Ivy League college and asked my freshman roommate if Jews had horns and questioned her decision to date a Jewish boy because their children would be devil children. People who proudly display confederate flags on their vehicles and wear MAGA hats in public.

PASS: People who come out and stand for hours in the rain to defend immigrant families staying together. Strangers who engage with people on my social media pages about these things because they know I lack the capacity to do it. The women from Alaska who I met in DC lobbying Senator Murkowski on Kavanaugh. My friends who show up for me in ways big and small in my everyday life.

There are a lot of depressing things about 2018 America, but because Trump has given everyone the permission to "speak their minds," at least now I know where people stand. I know who I can count on, and who I should just shrug my shoulders and give up on.

There is serious value in the Barn Test.




Friday, October 26, 2018

The Time I Shamed a Dude Who Stood for Kirstjen Nielsen

So here’s a little something I almost tore a rotator cuff patting myself on the back for.

Last summer, I found myself having lunch in a room of maybe three or four hundred people listening to Kirstjen Nielsen give a speech. The details of how I got there and what she was talking about aren't important, because her speech wasn’t about what she was actually doing at the time: Enforcing a monstrous policy separating children from their families at the Southern border. Families who were fleeing abhorrent drug gang warfare that exists in the first place--of course--because of U.S. policy in Latin America.

But that’s not the point of this story. The point of this story is how easy it can be to make people feel uncomfortable for a good reason. The whole room was visibly uneasy and I could tell right away there were going to be two camps of people here: those who had no problem standing up and applauding Secretary Nielsen, and those who would adamantly and visibly refuse to do so.

"Yes, yes," sighed her introducer in an exasperated tone, acknowledging the discomfort and the sound of protesters just outside the room. "You should clap, you should clap." 

Should we? Really? 

I sat there with my arms crossed tightly against my body and looked at my seven or eight table-mates. About half of them stood up and clapped for her, and the others sat looking at each other with stunned expressions on our faces.

Not one to shy away from controversy or allow an awkward moment to go unremarked upon, I turned to the guy next to me, who had stood up, and said, "I'm sorry. I have Holocaust survivors in my family. I'm not standing for her."

"Heh heh heh," the guy laughed uncomfortably. "She's a customer, so . . . " He trailed off.  "And you think that means you need to stand up and clap for her in a room with this many people in it? Look how far away we are. It's not like she's looking right at you and going to revoke your government contract? I mean, are you okay with what she's doing? You have kids, right?" I knew he did. We'd just discussed them before the carrot cake.

It was a rhetorical question, but watching him squirm was critical, because he should have been squirming. He was standing up and CLAPPING for this person. It's not that hard NOT to clap for someone who puts kids in cages.

Or is it?

See that's the thing, I'm coming to realize. It IS hard, apparently. It's a lot harder than I ever realized for people to leverage their power and privilege to do what their consciences know is right despite the consequences, even when the consequences are next to nonexistent. It's a lot easier to go along to get along. It's a lot easier to stand by and follow all the rules to the point of satire and wring our hands trying to avoid amorphous reprimand and being good little Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and cower in fear and subservience.

But that is bullshit, and we do not have the luxury of doing that anymore. Those of us who can refuse to clap for stochastic terrorism and reprehensible or even just stupid, cruel policies should. 

Every. Fucking. Time.






Thursday, October 25, 2018

On Baseball and Joy

October baseball is the best baseball.

Whether you like baseball or not, it’s impossible not to love the pure, unadulterated joy on the face of a major league slugger when he slams a clutch three-run homer into Fenway’s Green Monster during game one of the World Series.

That’s what Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez did in the bottom of the seventh inning on Monday. And as much as I hate the Red Sox, it was beautiful to watch. That kind of joy is primal in its authentic spontaneity. You can watch a child’s lifelong dream distilled down into a single moment on the face of a grown man, and unless you have ice in your veins, it will make your heart explode.

My relationship with baseball is kind of involuntary, by which I mean I’m a Yankees fan by birth and osmosis more than by free will. I’m a third-generation Bronx-born, only-daughter of a hardcore Yankees baseball fan. My dad has written books and articles about the sport, pores over baseball statistics, and brought me to several games a year at “The Old Yankee Stadium,” where the seats were sticky with gum and the only available concessions were peanuts, hot dogs, beer, and maybe cotton candy.

In our apartment, baseball was always on in the background: Don Mattingly and Willie Randolph in their prime, drifting off to sleep next to my dad, watching every game on an ancient Zenith TV with an analog dial and the volume turned off. (My dad liked the radio announcers better; he had no patience for the TV guys).

I didn’t go out of my way to watch the Great American Pastime™ or learn about it. In fact, I was pretty indifferent to baseball and found it a little boring, even. It was just something that was around me all the time, and continues to be. (Both my husband and son are baseball-obsessed). 


Given that, I really should know a lot more about the game than I do. I’m not a stats nerd and I don’t know the finer points of calculating an ERA. I can’t keep up with trades and free agency, or who’s on or off the DL at any given moment, and it frequently takes me a minute or two to figure out what just happened on a double play.

After 9/11, Yankees baseball unified a grieving city of 8 million souls. Baseball tracks emotions and seasons in a way that feels bigger than the sport itself. Yet for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction, which in the case of the Nunez homer, was L.A. Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood’s grief at having choked; he let a pinch-hitter go yard off his knuckle curve ball during one of the most important games of his career.

Still. 


I keep coming back to that unmitigated joy. Now more than ever, we need it in our lives.






Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Apparently Trump Has Michael Bolton on the Brain So I Rewrote this Classic Song for Him

When a man hates a woman
Can't write his tweets ‘bout nothin' else
He'll grab her by the pussy
And move on her like a bitch
If she’s a five, he will say it
He’ll call her horseface or a pig
Turn his back on his first wife
For a second or third

When a man hates a woman
Spend his very last dime
Trying to win the Presidency
He'd give up all his comforts
And sleep in that dump the White House
If Putin said that's the way
It ought to be

When a man hates a woman
He’d give it everything he’s got
Trying to put Biff the Boofer
On the Supreme Court 
(Baby please don't “inadvertently kill” me)!

When a man hates a woman
Deep down in his soul
He can bring her such misery
If he
 sues her for breaching an NDA
And incites violence all the time 
He’ll pretend it never happened 
Cuz he’s crazy

Yes when a man hates a woman
Trump knows exactly how you feel
'Cause baby, baby, baby
He’s gaslighting misogynist trash
When a man hates a woman






Friday, October 19, 2018

Nonconsensual Footsie is a Game and Here are the Rules

A Southwest flight was forced to redirect this week after a male passenger wouldn’t stop harassing a woman aboard the flight with an attempted game of footsie . . . Justin Riley Brafford, of Denton, Texas, was arrested after attempting to “play footsies” with the woman, kicking her repeatedly, and grabbing at her sweater. . . .  Brafford later claimed to authorities that the woman came onto him and he felt a connection with her. 



Players: 2

Ages: 18 &Up


Setting up the Game

1. Take your assigned seat on a commercial flight.


2. Players take off their shoes and set them aside. If you're not wearing socks, you might want to reconsider playing this game because nonconsensual barefoot footsie with anyone (much less a stranger) is gross and risks fungal infection.

3. Nonconsensual footsie is a two-player game, so designate the third person in your row as the referee. The referee is not considered a player; during the game, the referee will act like they're asleep, wear noise-cancelling headphones, but secretly monitor the game play.


How to Play

Player One (typically but not always a man) gently pokes the toe of Player Two (typically but not always a woman) with his toe, and then awaits a reaction.
  • If Player Two moves her foot away from Player One's foot, a safe assumption is that Player Two thought it was maybe an accidental nudge, given the close confines of the airplane aisle. Nevertheless, Player One must persist.
  • Player One then rings the call bell to summon liquid courage, and after the flight attendant delivers his third Jack and Coke, continues to poke and prod Player Two's foot with his.
  • At this point, Player Two becomes acutely aware that this is no accident, and moves as far away as possible (which is not very far) until she is almost in the lap of the referee.
  • If Player One continues to nudge Player Two's foot with his foot in a flirtatious manner, Player Two screams at him to stop and then re-rings the call bell to summon that flight attendant with the big boobs who will totally get it.
Strategy: Try traveling with someone who wants to fuck you.


Being Eliminated

If Player Two has to call a crew member to report nonconsensual footsie on Player One, Player One is immediately out of the game. If the flight has to be diverted, Player One loses all the turns.


How to Win

Player One wins nonconsensual footsie by avoiding arrest. Player Two wins by obtaining a cash settlement for counseling plus several thousand frequent flier miles from the airline.





Thursday, October 18, 2018

25 Ways to Celebrate Alaska Day

It’s Alaska Day! We’re a real, honest to God STATE OF THE UNION! We’re not owned by Russia anymore! SUPPOSEDLY! 

Here are 25 ways to celebrate:

1. Fix your car bumper with duct tape.

2. Call your friend to see if she’s heard from your husbands who are socked in on an island somewhere in the middle of nowhere hunting ungulates.

3. Go to a store that should be open, but isn’t for some reason. Order the thing you were looking for. Pay twice its value for shipping.

4. Treat yourself to a new pair of Dansko clogs or Xtra Tuffs.

5. Get into a fight with a neighbor over Ballot Measure One.

6. Listen to some crappy bluegrass while cleaning your guns.

7. See if you can get Alaska Airlines to give you 20,000 miles for no reason.

8. Chop wood like you’re the goddamned ant in that Ant and the Grasshopper fable.

9. Brush up on your Russian. You might need it again sooner than you think!

10. Log into your bank account and marvel that your PFD went out as fast as it went in.

11. Believe a woman, maybe?

12. Visit the Post Office just because you can.

13. Vacuum up 16 lbs of dog hair with a shop vac.

14. Use every power tool in your garage.

15. Murder some slugs.

16. Declare something to be Skookum.

17. Indulge in opioid crisis-related ennui.

18. Sign up to bring juice or mixed nuts to your office potluck.

19. Chew some tabacky.

20. Eat weed; reorganize your chest freezer.

21. Go check your crab pots. Find nothing but rotting hot dogs.

22. Read the comments on the ADN. Smash your keyboard with your forehead.

23. Argue with a climate change denier. Yell, “DO THE MATH!,” even though you suck at math.

24. Contract giardia. 

25. Two words: burning pallets.




Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Feminist Tableware Line?!?!?!?!

*CLEARS THROAT*

O.H.M. turns four this month, and if it’s one thing I’ve learned in 1,460 days of writing this blog, it’s that “putting yourself out there” will pay unforeseen dividends. 
Some of these—like meeting new friends and making new connections in the world—are wonderful. Others—like being called a hideous, reprehensible cunt who deserves to be raped and should commit suicide—are less so. 

Diamonds and turds is what you can expect, my friends. Diamonds and turds. (Fun fact for Trivia Night: Diamonds and Turds was the original title of the Prince song, Diamonds and Pearls).

Por ejemplo, just yesterday, someone whom I believe generally agrees with the four basic premises of this blog--(1) Trump is an asshole; (2) Parenting is hard; (3) Nutella is good; (4) Alaska is cool—called me a “back-stabbing mean girl” who is “angling for viral status daily” and who “thinks I’m funny” because I questioned the wisdom of Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test (and subsequently conceded I should probably have kept my big fat mouth shut about that).

The same thing happened when I dared to question the wisdom of non-retaining judges for bad but legal decisions, to the point that I had to delete stuff due to a relentless fusillade of shit-posting from people whom I know for a fact actually agree with me most of the time, but for some reason demand a bizarre level of irrational ideological purity or else hell hath no fury. Which in part is why, some might argue, that the left wing of this country can’t have nice things.

Anyway, I clarified on Twitter that I definitely think I’m Kanye West-level funny and shamelessly angle for viral status on the daily, but I don’t think I’m a mean girl. And the reason I point this out, is because I think some things MUST be mocked, which doesn’t make me mean or “shaming,” per se. But the thing of it is, fam, if you’re going to “put yourself out there,” you’re asking for it. I’m asking for it. DAILY. And I certainly can take what I dish out.

So if you’re putting yourself out there in the real estate section of the New York Fucking Times, bragging about your gigantic East Village closets and your FEMINIST TABLEWARE LINE you should rightly anticipate a wee bit of shit to come drifting your way. Because truly, you are BEGGING ON BENDED KNEE in full genuflection for a flotilla of shit. 

And that is where I come in.

Alleged “mean girls” like me derive no small modicum of satisfaction from dragging lawyers who publicly defend the honor of superyacht owners and well to-do, trust fund babies who work at Facebook, spend $7,000+ a month on a Manhattan apartment, insist on profiling themselves in the New York Times about it, and therefore have approximately zero self-awareness. 

It’s not what Kendra and Jared have. It’s how Kendra and Jared talk about what they have. And how Kendra and Jared talk about what they have can be helped. And—I hate to say this—if it can be helped, it can be shamed. And should be. In short: I simply cannot resist giving Kendra and Jared their internet comeuppance, and if that makes me a mean girl, so be it.

But I just cannot with this.

This is a Cinderella story of a young couple who made the brave pilgrimage from the depths of a basement apartment in the Mission District of San Francisco (near where they also own a $700,000 “fixer-upper” somehow) to a brand new apartment building in the East Village. In the same neighborhood, I believe, where my family first landed in a tenement off the boat from the pogroms of Eastern Europe to pluck chickens and let karp swim around in a bathtub, but where now stands a half-empty luxury apartment complex built by Russian oligarchs and rented for $7,000 a month by a couple-plus-their-roommate with a French Bulldog named PacMan who has back problems and a Peloton bike next to their salvaged drift wood headboard.

Despite being born and raised in New York City, I don’t live there anymore, and Kendra and Jared are just two of many reasons why. 2018 NYC is laughably unaffordable, teeming with insufferable douchebags, and gentrified to the point that every bodega is now an artisanal mayonnaise co-op or a Bikram yoga studio. 

And every time I go home to my parents’ cluttered, vaguely depressing, senior-citizen outer borough ninth floor apartment packed to the rafters with 45 years’ worth of old newspapers and coffee mugs full of decommissioned subway tokens, I tell them it’s time to do Swedish Death Cleaning. And all I can think about is who in Williamsburg will redecorate their loft with this quirky crap when they die and I unload it in an estate sale; and will I hate whoever it is enough to just decide to burn it all anyway? Or will these subway tokens end up underneath a sheet of glass on an “upcycled” coffee table in SoHo?

Kendra and Jared (those are their names, if I didn't make that clear) first looked at a “pristine and lovely two-bedroom floor-through in a charming three-story brick townhouse” in Little Italy for $6,500. “But the stairs were a deal-breaker for Pacman.” 

DEAL-BREAKER.

I don’t even know what a “floor-through” is, but Kendra and Jared ended up foregoing one. Instead, they moved into a brand-new building called “EVBG” which stands for “East Village’s Greatest Building.” 

With its “boutique industrial aesthetic,” EVBG is meant to be a “nod to the storied rock club CBGB,” but actually sounds like something Donald Trump himself named on his Twitter feed (WE HAVE THE GREATEST BUILDINGS)! Ironically, the vast majority of East Village dive bars like CBGB, where I spent most weekends in high school, can’t afford their rent anymore because of Kendra, Jared, and EVGB.

But the best paragraph of this article by far is where Kendra brags that “as conservationists, they decorated almost exclusively with secondhand furniture.” And the large closets are “the biggest I’ve had in my life” with "enough storage space for craft materials she uses for her FEMINIST TABLEWARE LINE."

M'kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

So here we get to the point of this profile, which I think, was to compare Kendra’s life history of closet sizes and low-key promote her “feminist tableware line,” oddities, which aims to “elevate your meal time conversations with female anatomy, original art, and upcycled dinnerware.” I checked it out and these are plates and bowls with boobs and vaginas on them which, cool cool cool. I’m here for that. I’m totally going to get some of this and wear my $900 vulva scarf by Fendi to dinner.

The article wraps up by noting that “the building has more amenities than [Kendra and Jared] can use, including a 19,000 square-foot roof deck and a two-level gym.” Kendra “bought goggles, thinking I’d be all about the pool,” and she “intends to use the sauna on weekends” but always forgets. I guess she’s got titty-plates on the brain? Kendra and Jared do, however, somehow remember to “make use of the bocce court on the roof.”

For perspective, the last time we lived in Brooklyn, we made use of the fuse box in the basement of my aunt’s old rental in Prospect Heights to avoid getting electrocuted, and jury-rigged the shower with dental floss so that you didn’t have to choose between hot OR cold and could maybe sometimes get warm. 

We’d also sometimes call the landlady—Mrs. Daniels—when the radiator clanged in at top heat in mid-August. She’d answer, sometimes, in a thick Trinidadian accent, “BUT IT’S DA SUMMAH! DA HEAT NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ON!” And I would say yes, that’s the problem. Also mice. Also a drunk homeless guy wandering up to my front door late at night and teetering in my doorway. Also old Fudgecicle sticks my aunt left behind on the loft bed. We bought quarters, because we spent a lot of time in a laundromat, and also a tie-dyed sheet for a “door” between the bedroom and the living room which was actually just one big small room without the sheet.

So Kendra and Jared, I’m sorry to shame you for “living big,” as you call it, but honestly, you asked for it.





Saturday, October 13, 2018

Superyacht Investing: The Struggle is Real

In this era of commodified outrage and wealthy white male victimhood, nothing should surprise me. And yet, something did! What was it? I'm glad you asked. 

It was this apparently non-satirical column by a lawyer named—because of COURSE—Quentin Bargate, on a website called superyachtinvestor.com. Not to be confused with Superyacht Quarterly, Superyacht Monthly, Superyacht Lifestyle, or any of the other countless trade publications targeted to superyacht owners and investors.

Quentin Bargate--who for some reason is wearing stripes and plaid together--titled his article “Separating Morality from Legality—and Why Yachting Has the Moral High Ground.”

I’ll give you a minute to re-read those dozen words a few times and absorb them before I send this entire column to the burn unit sentence for sentence. Ready? Not yet? I’ll give you a few more moments. How about now? Okay.

Let’s go.

I don’t believe lawyers should write too much about morality. 

CAN CONFIRM. I'm a lawyer myself, so I should know. If you have a law degree, refraining from moralizing is DEF best practices. Just ask Michael Cohen. 

But following the disclosure of the ‘Paradise Papers’ in 2017, an onslaught of misguided moral righteousness resulted, villainising the wealthy for using perfectly legal means of investing their wealth in offshore corporations in order to achieve tax efficiency. 

Wow wow wow. So true. We are all so misguided in our moral righteousness and resistance to disgusting, unfettered capitalism run amok. It's a veritable tragedy how the "ultra high net worth community" felt villainized for using "perfectly legal means" of sheltering their jillions overseas to dodge the fuck out of their debt to society. For as we all know, if it's legal, it must be right! (See, e.g., slavery, segregation, and prohibition).

In the process, many August journals blurred the lines between entirely legal tax avoidance and illegal tax evasion.

Dude. Your clients are billionaires--not just yacht investors, but SUPERYACHT investors (side note: what's the dif between a regular yacht and a superyacht? Kryptonite?). So ostensibly you should be able to distinguish between "august" with a lower-case "a," which means reputable, and August, with a capital "A," which is the eighth month of the year. Unless your'e referring to the slew of journals which just two months ago villainized your clients for being the greedy bastards that they are? Avoidance, evasion. It's all semantics. EVASION = bad. AVOIDANCE = good. TAXES SCHMAXES!

It was regrettable that we saw yacht owners who choose to flag their vessel with an offshore flag state being pulled into the debate in the ever popular pantomime of the evil Superyacht owner who hides his wealth and avoids paying tax.

SO REGRETTABLE! It's a regrettable stereotype harbored by the unwashed masses that people who own superyachts are probably YOOGE dicks. It's certainly more regrettable than, say, the "ever popular pantomime" of "Black boy holding Skittles as armed assassin” or "Gay man as pedophile" or "brown toddler in cage for no reason, signing their rights away in Crayolas on an immigration form" or "woman in politics with opinions as screaming, actively-menstruating bog witch?"

Many of the these flag states are BOTs, such as the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands. They support seafarers and do vital work alongside other “Red Ensign” (i.e British) flags, but you hear little about that.

Ah, that's right. We don't hear enough about the "vital work" that a small cabal of James Bond wannabes are doing in the Bahamas. This is totally under-reported. To just assume they are idle assholes devoid of principle and drowning in inherited wealth stolen via British colonialism is FAKE NEWS.

The choice of flag state should be considered one of the most important decisions in yacht ownership . . . The benefits of registering a vessel under a recognised offshore flag state are clear and considerable.

Guys, in case you were in the market for a superyacht, please remember how critical it is to choose the right flag state. It's the most important decision you'll ever make in yacht ownership. Quentin Bargate stands ready to assist you when you’re ready to take the plunge.

This is legitimate tax avoidance. Who benefits? Not just the yacht owner but also the economies of the European countries, whether for ship repair, bunkering, victualling, restaurants, marinas and several support services.

Ohhhhh . . . I SEE. Good old trickle-down economics of late-stage capitalism. This is so 80s. Both 1980s AND 1880s. How Dickensian. I don't know what "victualling" is, but it sounds like "drinking Absinthe on the bow of a superyacht after a polo match?" This is NOBLESSE OBLIGE, you see. Yes, we Anglos stampeded across the globe, colonized land that didn't belong to us, killed everyone with our filthy diseases, and made ourselves stinking rich in the process. So now everyone should be THANKING us for doling out a non-living wage to some 45 year-old with black lung and seven kids turning bolts under the hull of a dry-docked superyacht on 12 hour shifts at a shipyard near Plymouth. M'kay.

I cannot personally think of a film where a superyacht was not used as the lair or getaway vehicle for some disreputable character. 

Yes. For good reason.

Granted, playing the villain is often the best acting role. 

GRANTED. It's good to be bad! Even when we’re portrayed as assholes in the media, we rich people always get THE BEST ACTING ROLES. Just ask ya boy Trump!

The more we can dispel this misleading association between yacht ownership and dodgy behaviour, then the more new individuals we can encourage into this fantastic and unique world.

Finally someone is speaking up for the little guy, aka, the deeply marginalized and misunderstood community of FUCKING SUPERYACHT OWNERS, Y’ALL! Yes, let's all work to dispel these unjust myths, because that is an excellent use of our time and energy in civic messaging. The misleading association between yacht ownership and dodgy behavior is totally unfounded. Take to the streets!

With increased security risk, it is beneficial that these superyachts are able to respond to aid the government in detection and prevention of threats.

Wai wai wait . . . are you suggesting that there's a cozy (or as the Brits would spell it, cosy) relationship between extremely rich people and the military-industrial complex/police state? I don't believe you.

There is a good story to be told, but it is not being repeated often enough. It is a story of high standards, increased safety and crew welfare. It is also a story of wealth generation across Europe and beyond, and the enhancement of our own security.

Right on. This story is not being told enough. So let me give it a shot: Once upon a time, in a land far far away, there was a douchebag named Quentin Bargate who made his fame and fortune defending the good honor of European superyacht owners. And they all lived happily ever after, drowning in their swollen stock portfolios. The End! Now repeat that story in the bathroom mirror 13 times and Warren Buffet will appear and write you a seven-figure check.

Now, the pressure is on for publicly searchable beneficial ownership registers. No longer will the wealthy enjoy any meaningful financial privacy, their security will be compromised and the aims of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be entirely lost. How ridiculous!

Noooooooooo! How RIDICULOUS!!!!!!! We must ensure that the wealthy enjoy meaningful financial privacy. This is like, a basic human right. But first can we maybe make sure that children in the global south enjoy meaningful access to running water devoid of parasites as opposed to shitting themselves to death before the age of five? Let's enjoy making that happen first, maybes.

We should not let the tabloid press or leaks such as that of the Paradise Papers, obscure the bigger picture. It is the duty of all of us that know of these many benefits to get out there and tell that story.

PREACH, KWEEN! We must NOT let the tabloids take control here. IT IS THE DUTY OF ALL OF US. We must wrest this narrative back from the plebes. Quentin Bargate, you are doing God's Work. GOD'S WORK, I tell you!