. . . 2000-09-24 . . . The Hotsy Totsy Club
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Lookin for trouble From "Across Arizona," William Henry Bishop, Harper's New Monthly Magazine, March, 1883:
Our visit happened to be timed upon the heels of a conflict making the most tragic page yet written in the annals of Tombstone. Official opinions were evenly divided about it, the sheriff extending his sympathy to one party, the city marshal, who was, in fact, its leader, to the other. City Marshal Earp, with his two brothers, and one "Doc" Holliday, a gambler, came down the street armed with rifles and opened fire on the two Clanton brothers and the two McLowry brothers. The latter party had been practically disarmed by the sheriff, who had feared such a meeting, and meant to disarm the others as well. Three of them fell, and died on the spot. "Ike" Clanton alone escaped. The slayers were imprisoned, but released on bail. The Grand Jury was now in session, and hearing the evidence in the case. It was rumored that the town party, for such were the Earps, would be able to command sufficient influence to go free of indictment. The country cow-boys, on the other hand, were flocking into town, and on one quiet Sunday in particular things wore an ominous look. It was said that should justice fail to be done, the revengeful, resolute-looking men conferring together darkly at the edges of the sidewalk would attempt to take the matter into their own hands.

. . . 2000-09-25

Addenda

Our controversial Dr. Doolittle entry has been upgraded to a better image and a better link.

And from amongst the outtakes of our recent hypnosis serial, we extract the following...

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Breaking news!

Mark Dery's typical Feed thinkpiece ends by quoting Paul Kluger:

"It is the speaking subject who declared God dead one hundred years ago whose very existence is now being called into question."
Actually, since the same speaking subject handled both the initial declaration and the initial question call, and pretty much at the same time, maybe it's just the news carrier that's broken....

. . . 2000-09-26

Attempt at a response (detached): Racism is largely a disease of attention. The sufferer is hypersensitized to certain classifications and then applies them irrationally.

Institutionally, racism and sexism direct funding and publicity to research studies that focus on culturally transient "racial" or "sexual" factors without consideration of the relative importance of those factors. When it comes to performance on standard IQ tests, does the one-eighth-or-so of African ancestry that makes an American count as "African-American" actually mean more statistically than family income? Than health? Than motivation to spazz out over a test? If not, then there's some other reason it's being focused on.

Those headlined studies in turn support racism and sexism at an individual level. No statistics justify an assumption by a "white" guy that a "black" guy he's never met before is going to be dumb and a "yellow" guy he's never met before is going to be smart -- averaged differences between those groups are dwarfed by the differences between individuals within each group -- but there are plenty who think that's what "studies show."

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Attempt 2 (personal): I can understand the impulse to stand up for bigotry against smug blowhards with iffy statistics, but I can't understand doing it from behind the billowing skirts of even smugger blowhards with iffy statistics. And if you're feeling bludgeoned by mandated liberal tolerance, try moving into a hostile monoculture. Chances are you're misremembering how a bludgeon feels.

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Attempt 3 (detached personal): People who've been trapped don't like seeing escape routes closed off.

. . . 2000-09-27

Our Consumer Reporter, Beth Rust, checks in:

The Squished Rat Gelatin Mold is not nearly as much fun as the Brain Mold, being a bit too obvious and all, but I couldn't resist anyway. Might work better with ice cream instead of Jell-O, although the gelatinous texture adds so much to the oosh! factor. It takes a lot less Jell-O than the brain does, though, so it'll be cheap to experiment with. The mold includes extruded entrails - the "squished" part - but since I'm fonder of extruded entrails in text than in graphics I may trim them off of the mold, or try and disguise them to look like chestnut stuffing.

Plus: "Celebrating the Days of the Dead is more fun with these Sugar Skull Molds!"

. . . 2000-09-28

When you talk about what's "natural," you restrict yourself to what you "know"

During my couple of years of software engineering in New York City, three of my best co-workers were black. In San Francisco and Silicon Valley, I have yet to meet a single black software engineer at all, good, bad, or mediocre -- although I've certainly met plenty of bad and mediocre software engineers.

Does that mean there's a genetic difference between African-Americans in New York and African-Americans in California? Or does it mean that the oh-so-wired-and-aware computer culture of California works hard to maintain its blind spots?

That example's hard to change, but it was easy to express: all in newspaper language, ready to say. The next one's harder -- I've been trying for twenty years and haven't managed it yet.

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Movie Comment: The Brandon Teena Story

"I wouldn't live there if you paid me to."
- David Byrne
"thinking: I didn't leave them like that! I didn't. It's not real."
- Samuel R. Delany
I went to high school in a crummy small town in rural Missouri. I was a pathetically odd kid, but maybe my flaws didn't glare so much in this setting; anyway, along with bigotry (mostly aimed at the world outside of town) and bored aggression (mostly aimed at teachers and long-standing pariahs), I found deep stores of acceptance, affection, and wit.

The fifty students in my class maintained their allotted Kinsey percentages, but homosexuality by definition didn't exist. The few kids who were active deviants were probably as active as they were only because they were already established as pariahs -- and even they were invisible to all but an inner group of their peers. As a fairly trustworthy peer who'd come from and who was obviously back on his way to "the outside world," I got to talk to a couple of kids whose confusions were particularly pressing. The town seemed (and seems) to me far too dangerous and confusing an environment for either gay or straight sex, and so I always advised caution in leaping to conclusions -- or, for that matter, leaping to anything, though wuddya gonna do? it's teenage hormones.

The kids who later on did get out of town incorporated new experiences and self-definitions in a dazzling variety of ways, some of which involved familiar labels and some of which didn't. The ones who stayed continued to live in a world that included revolving-door marriages, suicides, alcoholism, beatings, and fatal accidents, but not homosexuality. Sexual surveys of the people in town and the people who'd left would give you very different results, but inasmuch as you learned anything of value it wouldn't be about innate sexuality: it would be about the social effects of monoculture.

I believe that a moral imperative for narrative art (including discursive prose) is to present the "strange," the "peculiar," the "monstrous." Not in the professional ooh-aren't-we-naughty fashion that justifies the status quo with supposedly "dangerous" material rather than supposedly "safe" material, but in a way that, whether angry or affectionate or panicked or flat as a pancake, somehow does what it can to prepare its audience for "the outside world."

Of course, all this only matters because there's more than one "outside world" and more than one "monoculture," and as we make our transitions between them the moral imperative can start to get pretty contorted.

The other night I saw The Brandon Teena Story and saw depicted -- pretty much for the first time in a movie -- the familiar landscape, accents, mannerisms, faces.... About as intense a bad nostalgia trip as could be imagined. Just like going home, too late to stop something.

Mostly I got to see my peers again. They're not wilfully self-consciously evil or hypocritical or stupid -- that cultural imperative I didn't see in full force till I left town and met America's ruling class -- but they do tend to be breathtakingly (in all senses) naive, in the way any monoculture is. It's a naivete that can easily turn hostile, vicious and violent. It can also be ironically self-aware and astonishingly amenable to argument and experience in a way that, for example, trust funded artists don't seem to be.

The transgender-warriors protesting outside the murder trial acted as if they anticipated a Scottsboro Boys travesty, while inside the courthouse justice was being managed with exquisite (if all too American) care. Righteousness external, righteousness internal; the former enraged me, the latter did not; both were too late to stop anything. What I saw in the documentary were my friends, in a monstrous situation: confused, ill-equipped, damaged, but for the most part genuinely trying to survive with a sense of morality. What "the outside world" (that I'm now a part of) apparently saw were monsters.

. . . 2000-09-29

Enough already! Memoirs, Nietzsche, the mystic nature of consciousness, pleas for Affirmative Action and redneck tolerance -- what is this, the Oprah book club?

In hopes of elevating the level of discourse, here's a joke:
A guy walks into a bar carrying a grasshopper.

Guy says, "Me and my buddy would like a drink."

Bartender says, "I'm sorry, we don't serve grasshoppers here."

Guy says, "That's OK; we're ordering margaritas."

  Jolly Jokesters

. . . 2000-09-30

Alec the Guy Elevating the level of discourse, as explained by Alan Moore to Dave Sim (via linkmachinego):
"I mean, you're right when you point out that Eddie and I are both strong-willed and stubborn people, but then, on the other hand, he puts away three bottles of a particularly mischievous little Chianti before brunch, and I am generally medicated to the point where I can only signal with my eye movements. This means that while we have probably had strong, even violent, disagreements, neither of us could remember the thread of his argument for long enough to convey it to the other one, or even why we'd called in the first place. If there is not actual solidarity amongst the deliberately dysfunctional, neither is there any coherent disagreement. That's a working partnership right there."

. . . 2000-10-01

Another Ingenious Jape
A guy walks into a bar and says, "I'll have a perfect Manhattan, please."

The bartender says, "How do you make a perfect Manhattan?"

The guy says, "Maintain social services, provide commercial rent control for small businesses, and encourage mixed-class neighborhoods."

Then another guy walks into the bar and says, "I'd like a cosmopolitan."

So the bartender says, "How do you make a cosmopolitan?"

The guy says, "Start with the horoscope and the quiz, then invent some successful executive assistants who give sex tips and put a slinky model on the cover."

Hotsy Totsy Club, 42nd St. A third guy walks into the bar. The guy says, "Old Granddad, straight."

The bartender says, "How do you make Old Granddad, straight?"

The guy says, "By giving him electroconvulsive therapy while showing him porn and only feeding him when he kisses Old Grandma."

So a fourth guy walks into the bar and says, "Can I get a Lotte Munney?"

The bartender says, "How do you make a Lotte Munney?"

Finally the first guy's had enough. He stands up and yells, "You're not a real bartender!"

The bartender says, "Yeah, I know; this place is a joke."

. . . 2000-10-02

Walter Benjamin takes a look at the craze that's sweeping the world's youth in The Origin of [Web] Tragic [Logging]:

That which lies here in ruins, the highly significant fragment, the remnant, is, in fact, the finest material in [weblog] creation. For it is common practice in the literature of the [weblog] to pile up fragments ceaselessly, without any strict idea of a goal, and, in the unremitting expectation of a miracle, to take the repetition of stereotypes for a process of intensification. The [weblog] writers must have regarded the work of art as just such a miracle.

In [the Web] they saw eternal transience, and here alone did the saturnine vision of this generation recognize history.

...continued...

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Art historians won't want to miss Helen Razer's insight into the longstanding association of Pop Art and alternative lifestyles:

"While the discursive and representational shift of the '60s prompted subjects to continually demand 'What is art?', the bland and selfreflexive contemporary obsession with one's rubber parts, as exemplified by Sexpo, forges the infinitely less valuable interrogatory 'Where am I supposed to stick that?'"

. . . 2000-10-07

A little twernt tells us that our "online brand" is being devalued. Like most things once you hit forty, this is disappointing but not surprising: as tribes of hipsters migrate to the East Bay, appropriators were bound to gather around the most beautiful sign of The Most Beautiful Avenue in the World like flies on shit or UC Davis MFA poets on Hispanic graffiti. But what's a proprietor to do?

Destruction of the Sign   Option 1: Keep the brand name but diversify it. After all, there are many other Hotsy Totsy Clubs. Perhaps we could apply for an Absolut arts grant to go to each one in person and write up little reports full of our own special whimsy?

Option 2, suggested by founding member Juliet Clark: Rotate our "look and feel" to pay tribute to the many other fine watering holes of San Pablo Avenue: Wanda's Cocktails, Club Mallard, The Missouri Lounge....

Option 3: Attempt to maintain some explanation for the "ht" initials in our permanent URL; e.g., by calling ourselves Hound's-Tooth or Hoity Toity or Happy Trails or Hangtown or Hard Tack or....

Option 4: Leverage our well-secured "Kokonino" "online brand" with a title such as Hoozoo by Cholly Kokonino or The Enchanted Mesa or Going Maybe to Kaibito or Kolin Kelly's Brick Yard or even a simple dignified "Jail".

Option 5: Give the "personal touch" with a phrase that strikes deep into our singular soul. Possibilities include Ad Nauseam Per Aspera, Bellona Times, Now God Stand Up for Bastards, Fleet's In, Hick Jacket, The Ineffabilly Cat, Bunny Days, A Fustian Bargain, Topical Depression, The Grand Old Mopery, Rut, The Rest of Everything, Cerebral Pals, Essential Tremor, Twitchy & Screechy, Carp Per Diem, Boos Hound, The Disabled Debauchee, Alcoholic Children of Adults, Hoedowner, Now It Can Be Old!, Fromage to Eternity, The Interpretation of Dweebs, Meet George Jetsam, Eris Go Bragh, Chumps Elysées, and The Cruel Gay City of Love.

Gosh, I don't know. What do you think?

2000-10-08

Jesus Fish Skull of Jesus Look at Those Fish

The following item from Dave Langford's Ansible Index cries for wider recognition:
"Robert Lichtman forwards a 19 Sep Santa Rosa Press Democrat small ad that you need to know about: 'SKULL OF CHRIST -- This is the actual skull of our Savior. Passed down for many generations in my family. Radio carbon dated to 0 AD. Remarkably good condition ...' That would be his skull as an infant, then; I'm holding out for a grown-up one."

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Bad news for those of us who enjoy salmon: they've been turned into the Perdue chickens of the sea....

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"Although it would not contradict the technical definition of a vegetarian to multiply fishes who are already dead to feed people who aren't opposed to eating fish, there are some interesting points to notice about this story...."

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... fish learn about Jesus ... fish fight Satan, save screens ... XXX fish ... what would Jesus do? fish!

Crucifix Fish
"Some say that the inside of this catfish skull represents the crucifiction of Jesus Christ...."
- eBay Item #1000014686

... an' anotha thing ...... then again ...

Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
All other material: Copyright 2000 Ray Davis.