I'll build a place that's mild and green with stop signs on every street and free and friendly citizens who'll never be allowed to tweet. Cameras will float on blades; security will be courteous but tight so no one will grab my balls on cheese and meatball subs night when I'll dance in a worried thong and no one will mention cellulite. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
Author Archives: luvgoodcarp
A Sort of Homecoming
Uncle was bad at everything Cape Cod cares about. He excelled in one way only: he loved my fault-finding aunt without reason. He was blessed in one way only: his indulgent family loved him without reason. Today we buried him next to my waiting aunt in the only home he has wanted for seven years.
Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
Do What They Say or Else: Curiouser and Curiouser
Annie Ernaux’s Do What They Say or Else is a matter-of-fact coming of age story set in Normandy, France, in the late 1960s. It’s not sweet or sentimental. It’s straightforward and refreshing. Simple and profound.
Anne is 15 and a half, bored, disgusted by her parents, and intensely curious about sex. Sounds about right. She is suffering through the summer before she starts high school. This is the summer she begins to leave her parents behind and experiment with being an adult. She has secrets, which she is happy to share with the reader, but not with her parents. Smart decision.
One secret is “if I had to die, in a war for example, I would throw myself at the first guy who came along.” So would I. She is wise and makes keen observations – such as perverts start to “come out in March like the primroses.” Or this one about her parents: “you have to keep your mouth shut all the time so you won’t hurt their feelings.” She has just read Camus’ The Stranger and is deeply affected. She would love to discuss the book with her parents, but she knows they will not find that normal.
Like all teenagers, Anne is cynical but also naive. “There must come a day when everything is clear, when everything falls into place.” If only. Anne is a wonderful narrator because she’s curious about everything and insightful. She is every 15 year old I remember being, and it is fascinating to listen to her as she navigates to adulthood. “Curiosity is normal at my age: it would be strange if that wasn’t the case, except that for girls, curiosity can lead to anything, and it’s frowned upon.” Anne ain’t wrong.
Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor
Cerebral Thoughts on Freedom of Speech
Some people say, “I don’t agree with the dumb-ass things you’re saying, but I’ll die for your right to say them.” Usually this is said with a smug smile and the firm belief they will never need to prove it. If they were called upon to do so, these glib liars would flee to the hills and hide in caves. Hopefully not the same cave I’ll be hiding in.
So let me be clear – I’m not willing to die so you can say dumb-ass things. I’m not even willing to die so I can say dumb-ass things. Which begs the question: should we stop saying dumb-ass things? Obviously, yes. You go first.
Tengo Leche, Cerebral Thoughts Editor
Correcting an Injustice
So many wonderful characters are found in American folklore. You have Rip Van Winkle, Harriet Tubman, Calamity Jane, John Henry . . . Cocaine Bear. Their fame is deserved, and our culture rightfully honors them. But, sadly, fame is fickle and not all of our heroes are still treasured. Some have been forgotten. One icon’s fate has been particularly cruel and unjust.
I speak, of course, about Tug the Wicked Pirate. He wasn’t wicked at all. He was a happy-go-lucky stiff who loved to dance – usually by himself. And he was only called a pirate because he had one eye (having shot the other one out when he was 13). Tug was famous for sailing his sloop, The Charmed Snake, all over Pungent Sound where he seeded the clam beds around Block Island. Scholars say he spread more seed than Johnny Appleseed, and his left hand was more calloused than Paul Bunyan’s. He single-handedly saved Block Island’s clam industry. It is long past time for him to take his place in the pantheon of American folk heroes.
So the next time you eat a clam, think Tug the Wicked Pirate. And, if this post has inspired you, join us on Block Island on August 16th (his birthday) for Tug the Wicked Pirate Day. There’ll be fireworks.
Saffron Crow, American Folklore Scholar
It Doesn’t Take Balls to Support Equal Rights. It Takes SurrenderWatch
To honor international women on International Women’s Day, buy a SurrenderWatch and go exercise!
We, here at SurrenderWatch (patent pending), love women! And on this particular day we support equal rights for international women. In fact, we think international women should have more equal rights than anyone. So go buy a SurrenderWatch and get some exercise. Then we’ll sell your biometric data, and everyone will be equal.
What’s that? You’re not sure women need rights? Fine by us. Now go buy a SurrenderWatch and get some exercise.
Wait, you actually hate women, except your mom? So do we! Just buy a SurrenderWatch and get some exercise! You’ll burn off some of that righteous anger and perhaps lose that third butt cheek. And I’ll get rich.
Titmouse Beak, CEO of Pungent Sound Technical College of Technology and Owner of Pungent Sound’s Only SurrenderWatch Store
I shall move to Pelican Key where I will only eat shrimp until I, too, turn pink like a flamingo.
Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
Nothing proclaims privilege like white porcelain. Its glossy surface reflects a prestige anyone can appreciate, though the privilege, surprisingly, is getting harder to preserve, even here in this milk-white marbled executive suite populated by the pale and mostly male descendants of white porcelain’s original beneficiaries – all of us attired in the traditional uniform of extremely starched ivory shirts and aggressively angry red ties. So privilege, nowadays, does bring problems – though, trust me, you will get no sympathy from the plastic port-a-john people on this. White porcelain, even when it is safely segregated behind a locked door, to which I, alone, possess the code, can still get sprayed – as happens often when I assume a standing position of casual authority with my hands resting gently, yet firmly, on my hips. And, sometimes, white porcelain can get spackled, even when I am comfortably seated, skillfully conducting a contentious board meeting by Zoom. Of particular relevance right now, white porcelain can get clogged when the flusher thingy suddenly won’t work, which, of course, I only learn too late; when, let’s say, a large deposit (the only kind I make) has been dropped at the bank. I pride myself on solving problems - even unwieldy ones. But how do I make peace with this unexpected imposition? Acknowledging it makes me human, a thought I can’t abide. Asking for help makes me humble, an approach I will not try. However, ignoring it makes me privileged, and that just feels right inside. Plus, there’s no harm done. Tonight it will be disposed of by someone I do not know and will never meet. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
I was at the club when a golf ball shaped minister said give him a second chance. Hear what he has to say. He makes more sense now that he's a CPA. Then a putting preacher proclaimed the good news: he went to Wharton and got an MBA. Hearing that, I dropped to my knees and prayed. And Jesus put aside peace in the Middle East to sanctify the deductions I should take. The truth depends, he chanted like a Gregorian, on how much the Emperor thinks you make. For you must render unto Caesar what is his but only confess what he already knows then set up a charity in the Caymans and watch as your blessings grow. I invited him for golf and a Bloody Mary or two. But isn't your club anti-Semitic, he asked. Jesus Christ, I laughed, you're not a Jew. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
Slow Horses: Immorality Play
Mick Herron’s Slow Horses is a feat. It’s an authentic spy thriller with a laugh track. Written in the third person, the voice is conversational, appealing, and mildly sarcastic. Here’s an example. “Most of us hold that some things only happen to other people. Many of us hold that one such thing is death.” But it takes more than an engaging tone to create a fast-paced, suspenseful story. Herron succeeds there too.
It’s the 2000s and Britain is a mess. Whoa, Gladiola, I assumed this book is fiction. Is Slow Horses nonfiction? I don’t know. Britain certainly is a mess, but I found the book in the fiction section of Book No Further – though, I agree, the story does have that “ripped from the headlines” feel. May I continue with my review? Of course, my apologies. I’m a hairy ass covered with boils.
A group of extreme British nationalists have kidnapped a young man. He might be Pakistani, but he’s not. He was born in Britain. He does, however, have an uncle who lives in Pakistan. That’s good enough for the kidnappers. They’re going to chop his head off in 48 hours. On the internet. MI5 is on the job. Will our friend keep his head? Odds are . . . no. Because the slow horses have inserted themselves.
Who are the slow horses? They’re MI5 agents who have been relegated to Sough House, because they’re incompetent, unlucky, alcoholic, and/or obnoxious like mustard gas. They’re really bored and desperate to prove they don’t belong in Slough House – though they do.
Jackson Lamb is in charge of Slough House. And, with Lamb, Herron has created one of the great characters in the genre. He’s a foul-smelling, misanthropic burnout from when the Cold War was hot. “When he was in the field, he had more to worry about than his expenses. Things like being caught, tortured and shot. He survived.” Don’t trifle with him.
Throughout the story, he spars with Diane Taverner (Lady Di). She’s formidable in her own right. “The Service has a long and honorable tradition of women dying behind enemy lines, but was less enthusiastic about placing them behind important desks.” Lady Di sits behind a very important desk. Don’t trifle with her either. She and Lamb are at each other’s throats, and it’s delightful to watch. But will their rivalry doom our soon to be headless friend?
Everyone says Herron is John le Carre’s successor, so there’s no need to mention that here. And Everyone is stupid. As great as le Carre was, he never could have written a spy thriller like this. His stories were morality plays, and humor was a cardinal sin. Herron doesn’t get riled up about human nature and its sorry state. In fact, the subject seems to make him laugh. Me too.
Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor