A Young Man's Job
Pope Benedict XVI, who made the almost-unprecedented move of resigning his duties as Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, and Servant of the Servants of God. I can't claim to know much about Catholicism even though I was born into a coven of them, since I saw how batshit crazy the over-sized cult had turned them and kept as fall away from it as I could. But as little as I know about the One True Faith, I was always under the impression that there are two things Catholics are honor-bound to commit to until they plant you in holy ground: one is to serve out your reign as Grand Pooh Bah if you are lucky enough to win that plum post, and the other is to stay married at all costs or else risk being kicked out of the church.
But while researching this entry, I learned that the my assumption about the church's attitude towards divorce was a myth, and that (according the website Diocese of Beaumont) "this penalty was withdrawn in 1884. A divorced Catholic who has not remarried outside the Church remains a Catholic and may participate fully in the Church and receive Communion under the usual conditions. Even though this person may not be planning to remarry, he/she may still apply for a declaration of invalidity (annulment) to have peace of mind and to put closure to that painful stage of his/her life." I find it intriguing that the Catholic church permits a mulligan for a misconceived holy union, charging around $400 to file papers which wipe the marriage completely off the official record (which I think is a bargain, by the way; I can think of several episodes in my life that I'd happily pay that much for somebody in power to tell me that they never really happened at all). This brings us back to the case of Pope Benedict, who is retiring from his lofty post at 85 because of mental and physical infirmity (although Pope Leo XIII served until he was 93 and Pope Clement X wasn't even elected until he was almost 80). I've seen the Pope at work and all he ever seems to do is stand on balconies and wave at people. My mother is 85 as well, and most of her days are spent doing the same thing (although the Pontiff is usually acknowledging throngs of admiring worshippers while Mom is shaking her fist at unruly teenagers in the Taco Bell parking lot across the street). I'm encouraging the Holy Father to reconsider his decision and stay on as Pope so that some young whippersnapper of 65 or so doesn't blow in and open an abortion clinic in the Sistine Chapel basement. To sweeten the deal, we can even open a Taco Bell across the street from the Vatican so that he'll have something good to shake his fist at while he's standing on the balcony. It works for Mom.
Senator Marco Rubio, who was roundly mocked for awkwardly lunging for a bottle of water in the middle of awkwardly giving the awkward opposition response to President Obama's State of the Union Address. While I must admit to being stunned when Mr. Rubio stopped in the middle of his speech, searched madly for a poorly placed Poland Spring and then quickly inhaled a mouthful while looking as though he was hoping no one noticed, I thought he could have satisfied his thirst from the flop sweat the seemed to be gushing out of him during his poor performance. The man who was lauded on the cover of Time Magazine as "The Savior of the Republican Party"looked and sounded like a twelve year old boy who was being forced to give an oral report for his civics class. But in Mr. Rubio's defense, no one of either party ever fares well when giving the opposition response to the State of the Union. Partly because he is forced to follow an impressively stage ritual starring someone whom the entire nation voted into office based largely on his ability as a public speaker; then the poor sap who is giving the response is stuck in an alcove so tiny that they apparently can't fit him, a camera and a bottle of water within a comfortable distance from one another. But the most demoralizing thing about the response to the State of the Union is that no matter who is giving it, what party he represents or what he is responding to, his words can inevitably be summarized as "everything the president just said is completely wrong and if you don't follow us to the letter, the country is fucked," supporting his claims by making baldfaced lies about what the president's philosophies represent and claiming that the commander-in-chief didn't address issues in his speech that replays show that he actually discussed in significant detail. I guess that's always been the nature of politics but it's hard not to be cynical when it's blatantly obvious that the politicians in Washington don't give a rat's ass about working together to come up with some viable solutions to the country's problems. At the end of the day, all that they're interested in is being on the top of the heap. When I hear the manipulative rhetoric that they spew in response to one another, the bile raises in my throat so quickly that all I want to do is awkwardly lunge for a bottle of water.
Jonny Award winner Jesse Merlin, who I saw act in a show called Sketches from the National Lampoon last Saturday night. It was a delightful evening in which Mr. Merlin led a talented cast in acting out sketches made famous from various outlets of the National Lampoon media empire. But while Mr. Merlin enacted some memorably quirky characters (including one angst-ridden chap who liked to throw dead pigeons off of rooftops to see if they would still fly, only to discover that all dead pigeons can do is plummet), none of the fictional entities he embodied were remotely as far-out as the real-life Mr. Merlin. We are talking about a man who I first encountered wearing a purple velvet dinner jacket and ascot while everyone else in the room was wearing torn blue jeans and tee-shirts with sexually explicit slogans silk screened on them. A man who is obsessed with the entire songbook of Gilbert & Sullivan (I'm not just talking about the stuff everybody knows like H.M.S. Pinafore and Pirates of Penzance, I mean that he can sing the scores of Thespis and The Grand Duke from memory), the pretentious gross-out movies of Pier Paolo Pasolini (I will get even with him for introducing me to Saló, or the 120 Days of Sodom if it's the last thing I ever do), and the recording career of Yoko Ono (a statement which speaks for itself). A man who has been intimate friends with celebrities as diverse as Quentin Crisp, Barry Bostwick, Gore Vidal and Jonny M. My recommendation to the producers of Sketches from the National Lampoon is that if they want some really outrageous material for their show, to plug in some sketches featuring the character Jesse Merlin. But they might want to consider recasting the role. Whenever I watch Mr. Merlin play it himself, I can never seem to believe it.
The chipper Amy Ball, who yesterday qualified for a license to drive a motorcycle. If you met Ms. Ball, you would assume that her choice of transportation would be something like a tangerine-colored Miata that she drives while a massive Teddy Bear that had come magically to life sits in the passenger seat, and they travel the world together spreading sunshine and investigating vampire infestations that turn out to be plots hatched by shady groundskeepers who would have gotten away with it if not for those darned kids. But like many people with squeaky-clean images, Ms. Balls longs to be perceived as a Dangerous Customer. She dreams of screaming through the mean streets of the city on her hog wearing black leather chaps and a chain mail belly shirt which proudly displays her rock hard abs, while tattoos of evil dragons and sinister skulls challenge anyone who dares to steal a glance at her sinewy forearms. She sees herself stopping to gas up her Harley Davidson Iron 883 Guerilla at 3:00 a.m. and being harassed by an arrogant street punk who pays for his effrontery by losing an earlobe to her lightning fast switchblade. She imagines herself frequenting an intimidating biker bar on the wrong side of the tracks, where the burly thugs who populate the stink hole initially try to laugh her out of the place until she earns their respect by besting the biggest, meanest one in a brutal thumb-wrestling match which terminates with him being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. After that, Ms. Ball can strut with confidence amongst the scum and muck of humanity that she rubs elbows with, look the mangy bartender in his one eye and order Diet Raspberry Sodas for her and her magical Teddy Bear friend.
Valentine's Day, which passed yesterday without any major fatalities. My primary human contact was from the social network in which I read posts from you people trying to one-up yourselves over how much more beloved your one-and-only was compared to anyone else's. I did find it prophetic that many people abbreviated Valentine's Day as "V.D."since a lot of people are going to have to account for how they passed along genital warts to their spouses when their sexual activity has dwindled to Valentine's Day and each other's birthdays. I used the occasion to once again try to persuade Mara Marini to drop her various restraining orders against me, this time by making yet another riotous cover to a Jonny comic book; this one being a special Valentine's Day edition in which Jonny finally offered his heart to Ms. Marini with hilarious results. My plan backfired and I spent the rest of the day giving the policemen who showed up at my door a tour of my basement to prove that there weren't any dead bodies buried in it. But that minor inconvenience paled next to the stories of wives who were dined, husbands who were wined, and new romances which popped up unexpectedly because so many people were suicidal because they had made the mistake of walking down the greeting card aisle and allowing Hallmark to convince them how empty their lives were if they were alone on February 14th. Perhaps the most romantic story came from BroJoe, who was working in a coffee shop and overheard a pretty barista complain to a customer that no one would be giving her roses, so Joe went to a nearby supermarket and returned with flowers for all the women in the shop. I'm sure it made all the ladies' day, although the barista is going to have a hell of a time explaining to her husband how he wound up with a case of Joe's genital warts.