But Denise the ceilings have ears and eyes are in every wall. Argus hides in the cloud spying on your Uncle Sam bobble doll, which nods nervously on the dash looking for a place to crawl. And if Argus spies it then she spies you because no one accuses you of being small. Everything you hide is a peepshow behind a thin glass wall. Every lewd whisper and Judas kiss is recorded for instant recall. But Denise - Denise denies it all. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
You may have noticed Time magazine selected Elon Musk as its 2021 Person of the Year. Does anyone read Time anymore? This prompted Kara Alaimo to write an opinion piece titled “What Elon Musk as ‘Person of the Year’ Says About Us” where she correctly observes that a far better choice would have been the “brilliant scientists” who developed the Covid vaccines and the health care professionals who “worked heroically to treat millions” of sickened people. [CNN.com – 12/14/21 @ 9:41 a.m. ET]. “The choice [of Elon Musk] says so much about our priorities as a culture and the way we fixate on the wealthy – even when their actions are selfish and irresponsible.” Ms. Alaimo is right. Elon Musk is an abysmal choice. What is wrong with our society and culture? So much, I’m afraid.
And I feel awful about it, because this is all my fault. I was so overwhelmed with guilt (about how critics are apparently slamming the Sex and the City reboot) I totally slept through the day when we as a society and culture selected Elon Musk as person of the year.
If only the editors at Time chose him – then I would argue they intentionally selected a controversial person in a cynical attempt to manipulate people to read the article so Time could please their advertisers and increase revenue. But, sadly, Time magazine is blameless, because media outlets never try to manufacture a controversy for profit. This is just another example of how shallow our culture is, and it is all my fault.
Tengo Leche, Social Anxiety Scholar
Why does Homer's Muse disdain me? Why won't nymphs touch my flute? When heroes sail the wine-dark sea why stay at my desk and salute? When will I know love from lust? Why is it both cause a stomachache? Why are lies all that I trust? Why is drool all that I make? My muse is a mouse in a cage who refuses to obey my command, and when I touch the cold chaste page it slaps the dry pen from my hand. Wicked muse, eat your stale cheese, blow your foul breath on another fake - allow my feeble tongue to unfreeze because I've forms to fill, calls to make, and I'm near the end of my coffee break. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
While stumbling through the covid pandemic for nearly 2 years, I have relied upon friends, family, health care providers, politicians, strangers who have done their own research, angry people with their own agendas, and Uncle Brad (who is all of the above and thinks I’m an idiot).
This has produced mixed results, so I decided to give Gary Shteyngart’s Our Country Friends a try. After reading Lake Success (and loving it), I thought he might have the answers. He doesn’t but he is funny. And Our Country Friends is a clear lens through which we can see all the absurd, violent, selfish, selfless, and loving ways we have responded to the pandemic.
The book opens at the pandemic’s beginning, when no one knew how long it would last or the toll it would take. Sasha Senderovsky, a “writer and a landowner”, brings together 4 friends and an Actor (Senderovsky is trying to produce a TV show and he needs the Actor’s help) to ride out the pandemic at his country estate with his psychiatrist wife and his 8 year old daughter (who pre-covid attended a “very expensive city school for sensitive and complicated children”).
The estate (a house on a hill with several nearby bungalows) is in the gorgeous Hudson River Valley. “A pebbled path ran between the bungalows, in a way that Senderovsky [a Russian Jew] had hoped would create the feel of a tidy European village, the kind that would have never welcomed his ancestors.” The House on the Hill, which later becomes the Dacha of Doom, evokes the Shining City on a Hill – initially. However, dead trees litter the property with their “dead white rot”, evoking living White rot. There is also a metaphorical valley separating the ordinary and the privileged.
Before long, this “country menagerie” breaks apart, as friends and acquaintances become lovers – or partners in strange (but hygienic) sex acts. The Actor pairs off with a young writer (one of Senderovsky’s former students), and social media names them the “First Couple of the Quarantine”. But this brings more scrutiny to essays she wrote years before when her style was intentionally provocative. “She had been found out, exposed. But for what? All of this had been allowed just weeks before. Everything she had written came with just the right amount of nuance. It had been lab tested and publicist approved.” So what. Now the internet does not approve, and she is condemned.
The outside world intervenes in more violent ways too. George Floyd is killed. From their hilltop commune, which is disintegrating, they watch as society seemingly collapses. “They were watching a double disaster through glasses pressed to binoculars pressed in turn to a telescope.”
Mr. Shteyngart perfectly captures the Zeitgeist (whatever that means) of covid. The paranoia and panic are here. People are afraid that computer chips will be lodged in their naval cavities. They are struggling and lost. But they are also genuinely concerned about the health and welfare of the people they love and the people they grow to love. The story is funny at times but never mean-spirited.
Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor
On rare occasions a powerful and secretive institution may become so corrupt, it should not be trusted to police itself. Fortunately that theory doesn’t apply to the Catholic Church.
Look at what’s happening in France. In October 2021, the Bishops Conference recognized that the Catholic Church was guilty of allowing the sexual abuse of children to become “systemic” after an independent investigation found an estimated 216,000 children were victims of abuse by the clergy since 1950. See! They acknowledge there might be a problem – though they haven’t really said what they plan to do about it. But, obviously, they can continue to police themselves.
And let’s not get distracted by (what some would call) a scandal. France is an isolated incident. As is Ireland, Australia, Germany, and all the others. In the United States, the Catholic Church has been far more honest. A few dioceses have filed bankruptcy so some assets can be sold for the benefit of victims (assuming there are any). Now when I say assets, I certainly don’t mean all assets. Just those the public knows about.
So have faith. More importantly, please continue to send us money. We actually want your money more than we want your faith.
And don’t worry about these peccadillos. I like that word because it sounds like peck of dildos – so it’s funny and we can all laugh and maybe change the topic. Perhaps to more words that sound like sex toys.
Father Orifice (pronounced Orifeechee), Chaplain of Pungent Sound Technical College of Technology
For eons or mere minutes on the clock among marble mansions on a cliffside walk or sewage-filled streets in a shantytown, if you shimmer in silk or wear a paper crown - 110 degrees or snow sideways blowing - should you be lost or know where you're going, whether friends are plenty or few, I will walk with you.
Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief