I can’t stop thinking about the “Sex Junk” video

Perhaps you’ve seen it.

This piece of sh*t is a week old and its faults have been thoroughly legislated by the internet commentariat at this point. I am not hauling this beast into the town square over my shoulder like it’s a fresh kill. I am just here to say… “Wow. can’t stop thinking about this thing.”

All week I have been laying in bed at my horrifying apartment getting devoured by scabies and unable to sleep, staring at the ceiling with this farting beat playing in my head, over and over. So much had to go wrong to make this happen.

People with authority had to hear the mic drop punch line “my sex junk is better than bagels with lox” at least a dozen times before the cameras were turned on—and nobody said anything. Before, during, or after. There was time. There was so much time.

The director, whom I assume came up in their career filming content for the QVC Network, tried to create a kinetic concert film experience and ended up producing a perfect simulacrum of a high-school auditorium midday assembly hostage situation, completely on accident.

An entire crew of professional filmmakers made the choice to stage this techno-wobble almost-dance with a minimum of set and props and a maximum of empty space, emphasizing flop sweat bleakness in absence of anything else. This was OK.

The editor, faced with a mountain of footage from this Nuremberg execution of a pop science presentation, decided it would be wise to incorporate the brief sequence of Bill Nye punching a laptop spacebar like he’s fucking Deadmau5, and no silent hero transferred that bit of footage from the edit to the trash.

Netflix, who put up the money for this and presumably had the ability to pull the plug, decided to go ahead with the delivery of its unviable baby, resulting in untold suffering for all who had to witness it. It was traumatic and unjust. Marriages were ruined.

William Nye, the scientist, did not watch the first 30 seconds of this and speedwalk TF to the parking lot for an unfiltered Camel and some perspective. This from a supposedly reasonable man. A man of science. A science guy.

The audience did what any of us would do in this situation—froze, stuck stock still and breathless, like innocents forced belly-down onto the cold tile of a bank during a robbery. They appear in this footage as our surrogates, damned avatars of douche chill. The backs of their unbobbing heads are haunting.

Ostensibly, I agree with pretty much everything and like everyone that’s going on here. That’s what makes this so uncomfortable. This is ostensibly a vision of a world I asked for, and it’s like looking in the mirror at your smile and seeing screaming Bloody Mary instead. I can’t stop thinking about this video. It is a curse that will outlive my mortal soul.

all that’s missing is you

4:14 in the new apartment, morning hours with the fading sheen. Pulled a cabinet door right off its hinges, earlier—the wood that held the screws in is ancient by American standards, totally pulverized. Less wood than paper, at this point. It would’ve been old in my grandfather’s time, if he moved in here at my age.

The gas oven doesn’t have temperature indicators—I suppose in the old days, they just guessed. And it might not be conventionally possible to stop the bathtub here in order to, you know, take baths. That was one of the main reasons I moved out of a roommate situation! So I could boil myself blotto for hours in a steaming rosewater soup of me, liberally salted with Epsom, evaporating, like, nine pounds. So this in particular was a big, big oversight on my part. I’m starting to think that the lifestyle I like to describe for myself as “pragmatic and cavalier” could more accurately be described as “bleep blop bloop doop, booger eater, mouth fart.”

These aren’t complaints, I just find it funny. Smdh, as it were. I’m never gonna not be bad at the practical realities of living. I truly need some kinda keeper.

Writing from my phone for now, biding my time til I can size up the financial reality of this thing. That, at least, I’m okay at. I don’t need much. A stack of bricks, a hammock, the essentials. The rapper Jellyroll describes this type of Spartan living along the lines of whiskey, weed, and Waffle House. I can co-sign that.

One thing I am loving, though? This air conditioner is on point. Sure, it only cools one room, but you could borderline store elk meat in this room. I’m talking, like, a hotel air conditioner—you know what I mean? A human being refrigerator. It’s as loud as a dual-engine Cessna. I don’t even give a shit.

Also, if I ever want to develop a heroin addiction, I’m pretty sure I just have to go next door. It’s wonderfully convenient, man. Down on Quincy. Y’all come fuck with me in my house of pain.

Anyway, this night shift thing has made my relationship with sleep abusive. I still haven’t gotten a handle on it. There may be no routine possible. As someone who has always been on the eight-plus hour side of the sleep-I-need spectrum, I don’t think in the last month I’ve managed more than four in a single stretch, not typically. I’m still alive, still functioning, and some people have real problems, but this is definitely gonna shave a few years off of the end of things for me, at this rate. 

Again, not complaining! It’s just strange. It’s 4 am on my day off, and it’s like my body is forgetting how to fall asleep in a peaceful way. Lately I’m living the difference between shutting off your laptop and letting the battery run out—I’m running out my battery. I just go, and go, and go, getting ever more threadbare in function, power saving, until suddenly, just like that, gone. Could be in the middle of anything. Doesn’t matter. Gone instantly. For like, four hours.

I’ve got a grip of fun stories that I’m working on now that I’m looking forward for you to read—four different fiction things, never before seen. It’s gonna be a couple months, but I think you’ll like them. Some are sad, some are funny—at least, they try to be. If that’s your sort of thing, you’ll see. If that’s not your sort of thing, cool. Thanks for being here, regardless.

Hey, do you guys wanna know how much money I have? Because it’s nine dollars and twenty-three cents. I know. In one month I turn twenty-six. Some people in this world would freak the fuck out at that sort of thing, but me? I’m cool with it. I’m a REAL American—broke. 

This election makes me want to flay my skin off. I sort of feel like everyone feels that way. But please, let’s all be sure and continue to put our dumb opinions on this dark carnival in our mindless small talk every day. I’m sure it’s not horrid for our health to do that, disagreeing with each other all the time. It’s not making us want to violently murder each other at all.

You and I share an essential humanity. Our pains, our fears, are similar. The funny thing about people is, in all our infinite diversity, when it comes to the things that scare us, bring us joy, or keep us up at night, you and I are a lot closer than it sometimes feels. Stare in my eyes, connect with me. No matter what you may be feeling, you are never the first, and never alone. Be at peace. Selah.

Youtube Rabbit Hole: Eat to Live

Photo Credit: It was I—Sarah “Tooter” Szabo

A Journey Through the Sandwiches—Grilled Cheese

So you take your Kraft single. Peel away the plastic shell and slap that square between two sides of soft white bread, and balance the whole construction atop Uncle Tony’s Ford 300 inline six, hot to the touch, currently running.

“Hey Tony,” you ask. “Is this gonna make the sandwich taste like motor oil?”

Uncle Tony’s unconcerned. “That truck ain’t had oil in it for the last four, five months. Flip it after ten minutes. Shut the hood, meantime. Watch for flies.”

Crazy Aunt Sarah, meanwhile, is over by the cooler, fretting, talking about did you butter both sides of the bread? I keep my butter on the kitchen counter—it’s the French way.

Ignore all that. Sink your attentions in your cell phone. The Met is looking up, it seems—you love Hellenistic kingdoms of the ancient world.

Ten minutes pass—pop that hood. Oh yeah, you’re making progress. Flip the sandwich over—it’s half-done. Starting to look a little gooey. Starting to see a little sear.

“Hey, Sarah—your sandwich is about half done.”

She sits up, about choking on a quaff of cold Corona Light. Way too enthusiastic. “Cool!!!”

Cheese is a little crispy on the edges. Sort of sticking. Maybe you should’ve Pam’d the engine. Whatever, shut the hood. Too late. Pass the time with conversation. “Hey, Aunt Sarah.”

“Yes, beloved?”

“Are you really going all around the nation, getting people to cook sandwiches for you? Is it for like a book or something?”

“It’s much more freeform and loose than that, but yeah. Generally, that’s true.”

“And then you eat the sandwiches.”

“Sometimes! I mean, I would like to.”

Uncle Tony’s on the porch now, howling. No reason in particular—years of enthusiastic drug abuse will do this to you. It’s just something that he does. He appears to be in the process of adopting another stray dog.

You lift the hood and poke the sandwich a little as it’s toasting up. Smoke wells up into your nostrils, not unpleasant. “So it’s sort of like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives?”

“No, just sandwiches.”

“You’re the Anthony Bourdain of sandwiches.”

“Who?”

When you take the sandwich off the engine, your largest worry is consistency. Some grilling methods don’t disperse heat evenly. “Watch out,” you say. “There might be hot spots.”

You slide it on a paper plate, and to be honest with you, it smells pretty good. It’s sort of hard to fuck this up. You leave the engine running, because it’s powering the radio, and the song is good. It’s not your favorite song, but it’s good for a day like this—lazy, humid, grilling.

“You’re good,” you say. “Dig in.”

“Thanks!” She takes a bite. The cheese trails off her mouth in a melted tendril.  “Hey, you ever made a grilled cheese with, say, caved-age Gruyère? I’m a journalist, you know. Very curious.”

The slam of the hood closing mutes out your first “nope”, so you say it again, with emphasis. With more passion than intended. You roll your eyes, perhaps. “Nope.” Not at all. And then you keep repeating it. “Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.” Walking away from her, back up toward the trailer, shaking your head side to side—now you can’t stop mumbling it. “Nope, nope, nope nope nope, hell no, hell nope, no sir, no ma’am, no.”

And you keep on walking, past the trailer, out to pasture, leaving Uncle Tony with the sandwich woman, Sandwich Bourdain, whom when you met gave you a business card, unprompted, which read “Crazy Aunt Sarah”—beneath it, “OG Oddball of the West.” You walk in circuit for an hour. When you return, the sandwich girl is gone. Uncle Tony is asleep, and the truck is nowhere to be found.

A Journey Through the Sandwiches—Primanti

Look at that plating, man. Fries on the sandwich. This is always controversial, to me—I like to separate my carbohydrates. Imagine a sandwich simply made of sliced potato. Something doesn’t work, there. Or like, a pile of rotini, drenched with oil, served on rye. Eesh. Heavy.

Of course, sometimes this is necessary. Sometimes the goal is just to get it in you. I can accept that shoving the French fries into the sandwich is a way of signaling a sea change—an all-hands-on-deck, damn-the-torpedoes measure. Grab us a fresh white napkin, fellas, because this one’s about to face a ketchup deluge.

One of the few ways that a human being can truly attain immortality in this life is to get something named after them—multiple things, as many things as possible, no matter what the cost. A doctor’s discoveries in the field of disease can lead to his name living on as a scourge against earthly existence—”Acquired Sarah Syndrome”. A disease which slowly makes the skin translucent; the eyes harden into diamonds; the torso narrows to the width of a straw.

The Primanti brothers of Pennsylvania, Joe, Stanley, and Dick, secured infamy enough to share. Their eponymous restaurant was founded by Joe in the city of Pittsburgh in 1933; this sandwich was invented during the Depression. Oh shit yes, motherfucker—that’s how you know this’ll be good. No one was sitting around inventing bullshit during the Great Depression. You feel me? This was a time when the joy of invention was being thoroughly subsumed by the overarching need to survive on the day-to-day, and time spent tinkering on your “projects” was time wasted. So if you had an idea, and committed to an idea, and brought that idea to fruition during the Great Depression, then it was almost certainly a wonderful idea—otherwise you wouldn’t have stuck with it. It must’ve felt so good. I imagine this line of thinking is where the fry-in-the-sandwich convention comes from. Carbs-on-carbs, in this context, make sense.

In addition to the French fries, the Primanti is a hearty deli sandwich, composed of grilled meat, tomato slices, and a slaw of some sort, preferably with Italian dressing. Wedge it all between Italian bread. Say “bada-bing”—boooaash! ‘Ey, I’m walkin’ heah! Ya dum sonuvabitch! 

Get a load of this sandwich! Eyyy!

Gooash!!

Ba-doosh-ka!

BA BA BOOEY!!

Photo Credit: New-Burghers Food Blog

Fun Things to Get Away With While at Work

Did you know I read a Harper’s index piece that said that half of American workers have had sex at work? 1 in 2. I wonder if that’s self-reported. And I cannot help but wonder (not really) if self-sex counts in that number.

I’m not citing my sources on this; you’ll just have to believe me. I think the issue was from 1994. I read it yesterday, but it was late.

Here are some fun things you can do at work that you’re not supposed to do.

  1. Kick your shoes off. Hahaa, betcha wish you could do that one, doctors.
  2. Update your stupid website, and tweet about it.
  3. Have sex on the boss’ desk. Rub all the boss’ things between the flaps and folds of your sex organs. Spray jizz all over framed photos of the boss’ family. Spread your buttcheeks and kiss the cold wood of the boss’ armrests with your anus. This kind of depraved, insane behavior is fun to get away with at work, and half the people in America would high-five you for doing it, myself included.
  4. Drink banana cognac, eat LSD, smoke a doobie.
  5. Put one of your earbuds in, and listen to tunes and podcasts. Just a little background noise. It’s simple pleasures, folks. Simple pleasures are the secret to robust longevity and elan.

Youtube Rabbit Hole: She A Go – DJ Rashad – Stock Footage 

A Journey Through The Sandwiches—Patty Melt

Once when I was younger, I asked my younger brother to take out me and my father to—and this is a rough quotation—”a nice local place” for dinner. We were going, two kids and papa, to see an Oklahoma City Thunder game, which is a thing we do, naturally, of course. (You may have heard that we are the best fans in the world, which is always awkward to mention alongside the shared and truly heartfelt sentiment, “condolences, Seattle.”)

So I ask my brother to take me and our dad to a good place. Not a chain—no Outback Steakhouse, right? Let’s get adventurous. My family is very midwestern—I’m always trying to push them into some sort of realm of adventurousness, culinary or otherwise.

One would think, my brother, two years younger than me—his name is Nicholas—would share a similar sort of sentiment—some high-minded pretentiousness—some shit that’s on my level. And indeed, he was, on some level, on my level. But it was the most jarring, shocking thing.

So there we were, me and my dad, driving into the twilight dusk of Oklahoma City, down the 35 Interstate into the fucking Industrial District, where my brother, a mad trickster of some sort, meets us in the parking lot of a gas station, inside of which is a buffet, the name of which is illuminated on a sign just beneath the sign of the gas station itself, which is called the Pesco Stopping Center. The name of the local restaurant that this stopping center houses is the Iron Skillet. There are also showers, for truck drivers. Adjacent to the station is a sprawling abandoned hotel. This is a place where one dumps bodies. No light shines there after dark.

So this was all extremely funny. He admitted under protest that, when he was drunk once, this spot had been a fantastic out-of-the-way place to get a bite to eat. A real gem, as it were.

Anyway, the patty melt is a sandwich you should think of as like a hamburger, but cozier. Everything is given room to stretch out and be its sloppiest self, here. We’re talking chewy, toasty, sourdough bread, thick of crust and soft inside, housing an American-made hamburger patty, and some Americanized sliced cheese. Cheddar, Swiss, Kraft single? Blend them all. Melt them all. Make a stacker. Lace with lettuce. Caramelize onions in hot oil, and layer them liberally inside. Moisten juicily with Thousand Island dressing—the crown jewel of it all, the flavor synthesizer, a close, close cousin, not so secretly, to that savory-sweet national treasure, Big Mac sauce.

Motherfucker, check your pretensions at the gate. Sandwiches are meant to be enjoyed. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Showers are meant to be enjoyed, at a truck stop, next to a restaurant where I eat with my family. Life is stupid. Serve with fries

Photo Credit: Serious Eats

Wisdom > Power > Courage holla holla hyrule BOO-yah

Tattoo Guy: “You want to get the Triforce tattooed… where?”

Me: *v.quiet* “Uhhhmm, yes, just around my eyes, my pupils…nmnn..

Tattoo Guy: “Speak up. You have to tell me what you really want. Don’t be embarrassed, kid. Where do you want me to tattoo the Triforce?”

Me: *beginning v.quiet but my voice just rises & rises into a roar* “—my pupils & my eyes & in my ESSENCE & my SOUL!!!”

He jams the needle in my third psionic eye as my body is propelled upward into the clouds with sword in hand towards journeys most fantastic

Youtube Rabbit Hole: Boozie Bad Azz

A Journey Through the Sandwiches—Bacon sandwich

There was this bug-eyed ghost of a woman on America’s Next Top Model one time, at least ten years ago, who mentioned somewhere in the course of the show that among her favorite, favorite things were her grandmother’s bacon sandwiches. Which struck me as odd, for a model. She was very lanky. Very pale. Here’s the picture she provided.
w630_ann_bacon

Love that photo. That was on TV! She looks intoxicated, doesn’t she? Intoxified by bacon.

Anyway. This is a solid sandwich. Some white toast, or even just plain white bread, four or five strips of freshly-fried-up, crunchy, crumbly bacon? Little pools of grease still bubbling in the contours? Come the fuck on. That’s a post-run protein slammer of a sandwich, that is. Bacon sandwich and a big glass of chocolate milk. Fuck your heart.

Incidentally, this sandwich, according to the list, originates from the United Kingdom, which, okay, I can buy that. I have a good feeling that colonial America had a pretty deece familiarity with the so-called bacon sarnie well prior to 1776. How else would this nation have become a thing? What other fuel could sustain this fire?

One could argue that we left the simple bacon sanger behind as part of our mission to incorporate bacon into everything else, which is cool, and fine. But there’s always something to be said for simplicity.

Not that the bacon sandwich needs to be simple. In the UK, they’re often served with a topping of ketchup or brown sauce, which is a real thing! Bottled and everything, and it’s not gravy. What an amazing name for a thing. I’d slap that on a bacon sandie, tell you what. Fry up some onions for that bad boy. Feel like a real supermodel at lunch today.

Now more than ever.

I’m a beauty queen.

Photo credit: Popsugar.com

A Journey Through the Sandwiches—The Elvis

This is a heartbreakingly good-tasting sandwich. I mean that literally—this sandwich does arterial damage. If ever there was a sandwich with a body count—a confirmed kill—it’s this one. So it’s also an emotional wallop, should you happen to have a certain affection for the King.

My grandmother’s name was Shigeno Nango Morrow. Born in Japan, she married my grandpa, Jim, while he was stationed o’er there, in yon land of the rising sun, during the Korean War. She came back with him to Oklahoma, where she learned to eat with a fork and knife, instead of chopsticks, after wedding him. My mother was among their four children, raised in Tulsa, Collinsville, and thereabouts, living—I would hope—modestly.

The likely truth is that they lived in poverty. My mother bears the scars, but rarely talks about it, so I don’t know. But she hates looking cheap. Cheap reminds her of her childhood. I buy generic because I grew up cozy—she shuns generic because she was raised on it. People have their reasons, one learns, growing up.

My grandma, her mother, died before I ever got to meet her. My heart breaks every time I think about it. I grew up feeling robbed of her—here is this great lacuna, this missing link, the living symbol of my heritage. I love her with my entire heart—her round face, her olive-shaped eyes, her inexplicably curly black hair. I see my face in her face—I see my humor in her smile. I feel like she would like me. I know I would adore her.

I have heard, perhaps apocryphally, that her favorite song was an Elvis song, a beautiful song called “Can’t Help Falling In Love“, which is worth a listen if you haven’t heard it. My mother says my grandpa used to sing this song to her; when I hear it, I imagine it in his baritone, a younger, taller, slimmer man, so much more severe in mien than the jolly G-Pa I grew up with. I’ve never heard him sing it in my life, but I imagine it. Singing to my mother as a baby, singing to his bride when she fell ill. Sometimes I cry.

I don’t know how much this song meant to my grandmother, but I know it means a lot to me. It reminds me of my family—it reminds me of her, and connects us through time and space, in its tiny way.

Anyway. The Elvis sandwich is fuckoff delicious. It’s just a master class in sweet/savory harmony. Peanut butter, bacon, and banana, that’s it, fried altogether or served up plain on toasted bread. The flavor combination is decadent. Despite how filling it is, it’s also compulsively edible. My advice is make two—because if you can eat one, you’ll want another.

Make it if you’ve got the makings. It’s good for you, soul-wise. Trust me on this one, dammit; why you actin’ so suspicious?

Photo credit: Butter Than Toast

completely unedited copy from the back of this can of Monster Energy ® Ultra Red

☞ Copyright Monster Energy Company, 1 Monster Way, Corona, California. All Rights Reserved. ® © 2013

Change can be a good thing, when you make the most of it… like those mindless summers, working mindless jobs. They pay just enough to survive (party)—but somehow, you save enough for that last road trip before starting “real life.”

In homage to coming of age in America, and in keeping with our Monster family tradition, comes another change worth making.

White… Blue… and now Ultra Red: Light, crisp, refreshing with zero calories—and zero sugar.

Made right here in the USA.

Sweet, sweet, summer time, summer time…

UNLEASH the ULTRA BEAST!

to wish it real

I find it hard to give a shit about spectacles like The Walk—or, indeed, the companion chronicle of its true-life inspiration, Man on Wire, a documentary inexplicably highly rated among documentaries—documentaries being, I sometimes feel, the Dopest Form of Filmed Art.

I find it hard to give a shit, when beautiful psychos like these dudes are out there, on the daily(???), daring God to punch down and cup-check them, wet-willy their souls into eternity. I find it very hard to get it up for the feature-length fictionalization of some dude’s meticulously-planned, indeed illegal, and doubtlessly, incontestably daring choice to tight-wire walk a building gap at the lofty height of Way High Up, just for the shit of it. If he’d fallen, I’d be interested. Then you have a story, man. You’ve got hubris, you’ve got tragedy. You’ve got the ambiguous worthiness of a lunatic goal, with themes applicable to the entire ongoing arc of humanity’s architectural/technological/social advancements post-Industrial Age in general, from start to now—&c. C’mon, fill in the blanks. This writes itself; it’s been written before. It’s Icarus and Daedalus, the Tower of Babel. The Godfather, I think. It’s good shit.

Don’t watch Man on Wire if you like documentaries, I’m saying. Jesus, but that movie blows. Get fucked, wire guy. Monsieur Petit. You wanna see a dope documentary? Well… don’t watch that one. Watch The Jinx. That shit ruled. You wanna talk about a high-wire act…

Anyway. Speaking of Robert Zemeckis, I watched Beowulf twice in theaters, twice with friends, twice in 3D. This was during one of the nine darkest periods of my life til now, come to think of it. The night we posted up for it the second time—nothing else is good, let’s just watch that again—will probably follow me around forever, dragged in the dirt and sidewalk grime by a golden rope around my waist to everywhere I wander, in the metaphysical bag I drag around behind me, labeled “Sadness Inexplicable”.

A lot of people got killed today in America, by an angry person with a gun. They didn’t deserve it. Few people really do.

I’m tired of people being shot to death.

I’m so tired of people being shot to death.

I’d give so much to make it stop.

The people that matter, though, won’t.

I’d give so much to make it stop.

The people that could, though, won’t.

I’d give so much to make it stop.

It won’t.

I wish it would.

The people that could do it, don’t.

The people that could, don’t care.

The people that could, don’t want to.

The people that could, aren’t listening.

If they’d only just release the reins…

I’d give so much to make it stop.