Reprise: This Much I Know

An entry from 2008.

Twelve years of Internet and six (?) of Wikipedia have made me very flabby mentally.

Once upon a time, if I wanted to know something, I would gladly scour libraries’ card catalogs for many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore. Now I just Google, and if it’s not there, it’s not there.

Nevertheless there are at least a couple of things NOT found in Google or Wikipedia or YouTube:

1) The mid-1950s M&Ms TV commercial. I know I’ve seen this, years afterwards, possibly at the Museum of Broadcasting.  It starts with a live-action shot of a little girl with a dirty face. A male voiceover goes, Susie! You’re a chocolate mess! You should eat M&Ms chocolate candies! Switch to an animated cartoon of the talking Plain and Peanut candies. The Peanut is lying in a chaise longue by a swimming pool, sunning herself and talking in a Southern Belle voice. I’m an M&Ms Peanut. Fresh roasted to a golden tan, then drenched in creamy milk chocolate—whereupon she jumps off a diving board into the milk-chocolate swimming pool.

2) Conjecturism. This was a somewhat cranky mail-order art-history course, advertised in places like the NY Herald Tribune Book Review, circa 1960. Don’t Learn About Art This Way! was the hed, above a Fitzpatrick-style heavy-ink-style editorial cartoon showing the rear view of a big thug wielding a club before a cowering little man and saying, Now look, I’m an Authority on Art, so you better listen to me—or else. The National Lampoon or some other publication did a parody of this back in the 70s, when it was still fondly remembered. But you can’t find any reference to Conjecturism on the Net these days. At least I can’t.

Possibly 1) was plunked down the memory hole for reasons of taste and political correctness. Ive written the M&Ms people for the whereabouts of the commercial, but have received no reply. Even the Prelinger Archives have no record of it. But what happened to 2)? Surely Conjecturism was no flakier than Esthetic Realism.

Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice.

*** ***

POSTSCRIPT: Well whaddya know? I Google again and there in the December 1964 issue of Commentary magazine—in amongst the ads for self-help books, flash cards, and Bank Leumi—we have an elaborate two-page spread for Conjecturism! Alas, the double-truck does not include the thug with the club. But fascinating.

Mr. Theodore L. Shaw, it would appear, had a certain amount of money and an unlimited grudge against some long-departed art-history teacher he crossed swords with around 1923. Surely there’s a book in this.

More Adam Parfrey Stuff

As I recently told a friend, I was contributing some memories to an Adam Parfrey oral biography. It started as a memoir-cum-biography, but then Adam dropped dead.

Instead of meaty memories, the biographer was mainly getting bland, milksop encomia. As I described the problem:

They were all saying things like, ‘Oh yeah, great guy, loved that book he did. Had drinks with him once. Funny funny guy.’ Then I come in and it’s like I’m recounting the Alger Hiss case.

So I wrote a bit and a bit more, and the biographer and I planned to talk eventually. Once the pump was primed, the Adam memories kept pouring out. As a pendant to my earlier screed to the biographer (posted a week ago, though password-protected: send me e-mail if you wish to read), the following rolled off the memory spool. I may pw-protect this, too eventually.


Adam made a habit of collecting notorious weirdoes. Early in our friendship he took me to Burbank to meet his friend Nick Bougas. Nick was ostensibly a video maker and film editor, but he is best known for his grotesque cartoons. For years he contributed hilarious, highly transgressive pen-and-ink drawings to Tom Metzger’s newspaper W.A.R., signing them “A. Wyatt Mann.” To call the work “racist” or “bigoted” is to diminish it. Often it was just hackwork, subtle as a toilet seat (AIDS victims wasting away while the Grim Reaper laughed at them; innocent Aryan maidens being ravished by rubber-lipped negroes), but often his conceptions approached high art. One of his routine minor pieces, an impossibly ugly, greedy Jew rubbing his hands together, has become a ubiquitous template for an internet meme, “le happy merchant,” and you will find mainstream articles online about this. Nick was very much undercover until about ten years ago, separating his above-ground self from the dank cartooning one. Now he’s moved to the Atlanta area, and disavows his cartooning work as just a big joke.


Nick’s private hobby, which seldom saw the light of day, was corresponding with famous prisoners and sending them drawings on request. One was John Wayne Gacy, the clown murderer of kiddies. Another was John Hinckley, who asked for and got many cartoons of himself with Jodie Foster in various poses, sexual and otherwise. Nick was delighted to take these out of his correspondence folders and lay them out on the table for us, and tell us what the latest happenings were with his star prisoners. It was like stepping into the unpublishable, netherworld side of Apocalypse Culture. I think Nick corresponded with Charles Manson too (he certainly drew him), and this was what got Adam interested in Manson.


I’d been aware of Nick for years. His stuff was immediately recognizable. There was a comic book going around in far-right circles called “Tales of the Holohoax” (easily searchable online). He had drawn this against a script by Michael A. Hoffman, I believe. I was deeply offended when people asked me if I had done it, because I thought it was horribly drawn, by a lazy self-taught artist who drew entirely out his head and couldn’t be bothered to get reference scrap to copy accurately.


That was how I thought 30-odd years ago, but when I see Nick’s stuff again these days, I realize that his drawing wasn’t all that bad, and his heavy-handedness was the whole point. He achieved the same effect with his line that Andrew Anglin and weev do with their humor in The Daily Stormer. By deliberately being over-the-top and crude, he hit high notes of satirical brilliance that can’t be reached any other way. A throwback to those French satirists who got put in jail for drawing Louis Philippe as a fat pear. This has some parallels with the Adam Parfrey publishing model.


Not Tom Metzger, but rather Lawrence Osborne

Tom Metzger was a dependable source of humor and news stories in Southern California. If you haven’t checked in with Tom, you might ask if he’d like to contribute memories of Adam. He lived in Fallbrook, a desert hamlet in northern San Diego County just under the Orange County line, east of Camp Pendleton. He earned his keep as your friendly local TV repairman. But he was best known for his clownish antics as a “Klansman” or “Nazi,” sometimes running for Congress. At the Reader, people had relied on him for years for entertaining copy. Journalists had to pretend to go tsk-tsk about his antics, but he was so open and enjoyable to know, Tom was really a public treasure. He went bald, and for a while in the 80s wore an egregious rug. This is apparent on his old video interview show called “Race and Reason” (shown on some public-access channels in those days). You could tell he had a hairpiece, as either Adam or Keith Stimely pointed out to me, because there was no hair at the temples. Then he lost the wig and just reveled in being an old skinhead.


I suppose a lot of far-right people hated him for being a clown and seemingly satirizing their point of view. (Paul Theroux’s son Louis used him heavily in one of his documentaries some years back, “Louis and the Nazis”; you get the full flavor of Tom there.)


Toward the end of my Reader tenure, Adam and I had tea with Tom in a cafe across the street from the Reader. When he came driving down India St. in his Fallbrook TV Repair van, Adam and I stood out there on the sidewalk, waving (or saluting) to him. “Oh boy, what a welcome, I have to visit the Reader more often!” Tom exclaimed. He and his son John had a high regard for the Reader because we were “fair” to them. That is, we kept the tsk-tsking to a minimum, and let him say his piece. But it really was just part of the Reader’s business model, being controversial and highly profitable at once.


*  *  *


Jim Holman

This is either Jim Holman or James Woods. You be the judge!

The Reader’s founder/publisher/editor Jim Holman carefully straddled the line of the moralistic and the transgressive in his editorial direction. In appearance he looked like the actor James Woods, a younger and shorter brother. (“He looks like a priest. Like he needs a shot of testosterone,” said Adam of Jim, who had seven kids.) Jim was well known to be an earnest, conservative Catholic. Out of the Reader offices he did another publication, Catholic News Notes. This newsletter—I think it was monthly—had almost nothing to do with Catholicism. It was an anti-abortion rag, seemingly tailored to win favor with a broad mix of “social conservatives.”


As a Catholic traditionalist myself, I should have had a good “in” with Jim, but I had a decidedly different point of view. Conservatives in the 1980s got beaten into a corner: we were allowed, or encouraged, to beat up on queers and whine about abortion mills, but really substantive political points were otherwise off-limits. I guess that accounts for Jim Holman’s abortion obsession, and the Reader’s occasional stance against the local Gay Lib spokespeople. My attitude was, what if you’re not into gay-bashing and you think there are a lot of things worse than abortion? To me, Jim Holman’s public stance was everything wrong with so-called Christian Conservatism. Of course I was in one or another lesbian relationship at the time, so maybe my opposition was easily put down to that, in Jim’s eyes. Anyway, straddling that line seemed to be very profitable for Jim in those days. He could publish practically anything in the Reader because he was ultra-conservative Jim Holman, editor of Catholic News Notes.


*   *   *


Almost from the start, Jim recognized Adam for the mischievous prankster he was. Adam and got into the Reader at the same time, like a matched set. I was this hi-class normie woman from New York whom he brought in, evidently to balance out Adam’s dark side. I mean, if Adam was friends with me, he was probably not a bad person. That may have been a good front for Adam, yeah—at the beginning. But eventually I got tarred with Adam’s brush, and it was a disaster for me.


I told you about the Lawrence Osborne brouhaha and my legal conflict with the Reader after I left, but I forgot one telling detail. I happened to tell Adam that I’d just been down in Tijuana, and bought the usual trinkets, but also brought back some M-80s. M-80s are large firecrackers. I still don’t know why they’re called M-80s, but the name is scary if you don’t know them. When I was a kid firecrackers and fireworks were pretty much verboten, things you had to drive though back roads in Kentucky to buy. So I bought a bag of them. And Adam dropped this news to Lawrence, and probably Emily and other people, with the implication that I had bought “armaments” and was going to blow up Lawrence’s car with them.


When Jim got the story (it was around Christmas 1991; I think he and his family were out of the country) he recognized it as nonsense, but by then the damage was done.


Then, a couple of years later, there was that campaign of harassment against me and my magazine. Someone from the Reader was calling around, reporting me as a “nazi” and “homophobe” and whatever. Where did this come from? Well originally it must have come from Adam. Adam fed stories to Judith Moore and others. He told them that I was friends with the IHR people (as was Adam). No real substance there, but the stories festered.


Why, beyond being a compulsive mischief-maker, did he do this? Well I think it was because Adam was still getting a tidy little income from the Reader. Judith Moore was looking to give him the boot too, and Adam thought that, somehow, bad-mouthing me would extend his tenure. And it did, for a little while. But he was oblivious to the trouble he caused me. I brought the matter up years later. He was vague and dismissive.


Adam’s technique when you caught him out was to deny or minimize what he’d done. In the Lawrence Osborne business, he said to me, “Well you DID say you bought a bunch of M-80s in Tijuana.” (Umm, yeah, Adam . . . but I didn’t tell you to tell everyone else with the suggestion that I was somehow planning to use them against Lawrence.) He shrugged and blew it off: “Well what do you expect people to think? Why would you tell me if you didn’t want me to spread it around?”


So he wasn’t really much of a friend, if by friend one means confidant. You couldn’t really tell him things, because he’d twist them and use them against you. Laura, a girlfriend of mine who met him once, in 1993 or 94, told me, “I don’t think he’s your friend. I don’t think you can trust him.” Out of the mouths of babes!


Adam and I had good times together. But Adam was a crippled person, with a sociopathic side, though also warm and hospitable on occasion.


The Future Is for Robots

There will be no jobs in the future. Robots will do it all. That delivery boy who brings your groceries and adult beverages—he’ll soon be replaced. You’ll like that, because you won’t have to tip anymore. If you try to tip a robot a couple bucks, the robot will probably just make a grindy-sounding sneer, then eat it.

Your doctor and dentist. They’ll be robots too. The upside is they’ll make housecalls (and you won’t have to tip them, either). The downside is, no arguing with them. They know best, and when they refuse to write you a prescription for that really swell anti-depressant/painkiller everyone’s doing these days, you’ll just have to grin and bear it, and maybe find yourself a somewhat more expensive Dr. Robot-Feelgood.

Your cosmetologists and makeup artists will all be robotic. The Sephora chain is already planning for this, by staffing its shops with low-grade hominids. Sephora wish to find out the bare minimum of intelligence needed for working in the makeup field. The way things look now, your Sephora robots will be powered by two flashlight batteries.

All lawyers, judges, paralegals and court clerks will be replaced by robots. As with the medical trade, your excellence of service will be dependent on the type of robot-attorney you can afford.

Travel agents will be replaced by robots, too. Or they would be, if there were any more travel agents to replace. (When did you last call your travel agent?) But the real change in the travel industry will be replacement of travelers themselves.

Instead of spending a week on a business trip, or two weeks on a pleasure trip, a robot will do it for you. Every day they’ll email you memos and upload photos of exotic locales you no longer need to visit. If you wish, they’ll even drop you a postcard, to be delivered by your robot-mailman the old-fashioned way. “Having time, wish you not here, love kisses.” Only then will you realize how lucky you are, no longer having to pack your bags so the airline can lose them, leaving you to stroll down the Rue de Faubourg St-Honoré wearing magenta jeggings and a Université de UCLA sweatshirt from the airport souvenir shop.

It’s a hard life, but somebody has to do it. And since the robots are doing it so well, maybe it’s time to ring up that gilt-edged Dr. Feelgood automaton everyone’s using these days, and have him drop by with a vial of suicide pills. They’re vacuum-sealed for your safety. By robots.



Mockery and Valor

Near the end: Stephen Serenelli, 2004

Elsewhere I archived Stephen Serenelli’s early-2000s websites, and wrote some purring words of appreciation about his cancer diary. In so doing I had to slap myself down and force myself to avoid cruel mockery. (Archive link here.)

“A Journey Back to Health,” Stephen Serenelli subtitled it when commencing it in early 2003. This was just before he began a wacko course of naturopathic juice-drinking, in lieu of normal cancer treatments. Eventually his colon was completely blocked, and he had to have a colostomy (or rather, colectomy) anyway. Worse yet, by this point the bowel tumors had grown to the point where they were adhering to his pelvic wall and affecting his bladder. And oh, yes, the metastasis had invaded his liver too.

In his waning days Stephen blamed his naturopath for leading him astray. But this consultant, Ian Shillington, was never giving clinical care. Shillington was just a guy Stephen found on the internet, right after his diagnosis of bowel cancer.

And what a guy! Shillington was two thousand miles away, in Florida. He was a Scientologist, and his medical biases were doubtless influenced by that cult. And his medical management seems to have consisted of nothing more than a few e-mails. Shillington didn’t even bother to read Stephen’s online cancer diary.

How did Stephen Serenelli get into this situation? Obviously he was in a delicate way, a susceptible mood, after his diagnosis. He wanted to seek out some treatment that didn’t involve slicing and burning. We might also consider that he was “in denial”—ready to tell himself that drinking vegetable juice every day was every bit as valid a treatment as cut-burn-poison.

But mainly, I think he knew that he wasn’t long for the world anyway. He bothered with the naturopath nut because his new wife liked the idea and he wanted to keep her happy. Love covers a multitude of sins.

The Man in the Lavender Automobile

Nine years ago tonight “Velociman” posted this. His website Velociworld is long gone, but one can still find this copypasted in dank corners of the interwebz.  I have fixed a few typos, but otherwise it’s verbatim.


Knowing that we are no longer in the chilly autumn of 2008 is immensely whitepilling for me.


There is a scene in Flannery O’Connor’s 1960 novel The Violent Bear It Away, wherein the protagonist, a 14-year-old boy, is picked up hitchhiking by a man in a lavender automobile. The man plies the boy, Francis Tarwater, with whiskey and reefer. When the boy wakes up he’s lying in a field with his pants around his ankles, and his asshole burning. I won’t get into the Catholic allegory in that story, or the implication that the man in the lavender automobile is Satan, or Tarwater’s own inexorable slide into fundamentalist prophecy. I will aver, however, that I find the story relevant. Hold that thought.


There have been any variety of temperaments and personalities to hold the office of President. They range from heroes to rapscallions. I fervently believe, however, that not one person to hold that office has ever hated his opposition. There have been the churlish and disdainful, for sure. Carter presumed a moral vanity against his foes, which grievance he nurtures to this day. Nixon was consumed by paranoia and fear, to the point of ridiculous capers in the cause of an aforetold landslide victory.


I mention this because I firmly believe Barack Obama absolutely loathes my kind. This man will not be content to win the presidency. He will spend his waking hours thereafter not pursuing the legitimate goals of state, but punishing those who would dare to oppose him. The man is devoid of humility, or any sense of humor. He cannot humbly accept his incredibly lucky break in the crapshoot of American politics. The absolute lack of any pushback or intercessions on the part of the journalist class has rendered him peckish and intolerant of any dissension, if indeed he was not born that way.


This man truly hates. As only someone who is quite aware of his great shortcomings can hate. And like the second monkey he can hear, or tolerate, no evil.


The inevitability of Barack Obama has rendered the sane lycanthropic, the skeptical bemused, the disputatious fearful. It is no coincidence that formerly reliable conservative pundits are jumping the McCain ship like bilge rats in a galley fire. Most people attribute this craven capitulation to elitism. Noonan, Frum, Chris Buckley, that dithering Converse finishing school twit Kathleen Parker, they’re elitists! No, they’re not. Or that’s not what is compelling them. They are fucking afraid. Afraid to be the last dissenting voice in the face of the Hope and Change juggernaut. The Chinese kid versus the tanks in Tiananmen they are not. They are elitists, but they are cowards first and foremost. We don’t need them. And, unfortunately for them, Obama doesn’t need them. Therefore I will speak their names no more….


Did I mention this man hates me? You and me? Yes he does. Why? Because he can. Yes He Can. Beneath that cool persona is a megalomaniac. Cool? Like Stalin after a purge, emotionally and sexually spent. Like Saddam after a torture session, dozing in his chair with someone’s genitals curled in his fist. Like Pol Pot after a petit mal seizure, mumbling a litany of the dead. Cool that way.


So I will cast my pathetic vote, and ramp up my relocation to the mountains. Reduce my footprint. Carbon? That will be a nice byproduct, but I mean my personal footprint. My credit footprint. My interface with authority footprint. I’m researching micro-hydro water turbines for that stream, windmills for water, a half-acre patch for vegetables, a few goats, and a bison. Just because I want a fucking bison. My address? Fifty rounds up that gravel road.
I do hate to sound Randy Weaverish. But this is the fundament of my world view right now.


Speaking of fundaments, remember that guy in the lavender automobile?


Precisely. The whiskey of Hope. The jokesmoke of Change. I am Tarwater. We are all Tarwater.

The Awfulness of Red Lobster, and Other Awful Things

The owner of Stuff Black People Hate apparently thought better of this one, and made it private. But copied from the Google cache, the archive lives forever: . Herewith a sample:

Since you’ve been waiting 45 minutes, you gobble down four of these biscuits and, after drinking two glasses of water, you realize that you’re pretty much full already. Not only are you full, but you feel like shit because your stomach is now filled with a year’s worth of butter and garlic. You’re at Red Lobster, though, and there is no time for weakness. You open up the menu and behold how delicious everything looks – especially the beloved Admiral’s Feast: a breaded, battered, Neptunian heart attack in waiting that could be considered the most humane way to slowly kill a person. The Admiral’s Feast consists of a big ass chunk of fried fish, fried clams, fried shrimp, and fried bay scallops with a side order of your choosing that’s supposed to delude you into thinking you’re eating healthy. There’s nothing more ridiculous than someone ordering the Admiral’s Feast with a side of vegetables, which is akin to asking for a candle and romantic musing while getting raped in prison.

Red Lobster’s owners are aware of their popularity among blacks, but they prefer not to acknowledge it publicly for one reason or another:

Still, it is a well-known “open secret” that the casual dining chain ranks high on the dining-out lists of black people across the nation. Crystal Swiggett, who worked as a server in a suburban Cleveland Red Lobster for two and a half years, noted that black guests kept the joint jumping. The restaurant was located in Beachwood, Ohio, where the population is 87% white and 9% black, but the restaurant’s clientele was a complete flip flop of the town’s racial makeup.

“Ninety percent of guests were black,” Swiggett said. “It was the busiest restaurant I ever worked in. It stayed busy.” Though Swiggett no longer works at Red Lobster, she dines there regularly with her family.  She has cut back on fried fish, saying, “Family health issues led me to start thinking more about that.” Her father recently died of congestive heart failure, she said.

A while back Joe Queenan tried to address the awfulness of Red Lobster in his usual wisecracking style, but he refused to take on the racial issue as he really wanted to talk about White Trash. So it was a limp takedown indeed. He even used this piece as the title essay in his next published collection. Significantly, you never see Joe Queenan cited when other people write about the awfulness of Red Lobster.

I avoided Red Lobsters after trying one in San Diego years ago and noticing the preponderance of negroes. I have nothing against negroes, I just don’t wish to be around them when I eat. Call it an eccentricity, or delicate feelings, if you wish. As SD is not a negrified location, this phenomenon came as a surprise.

For low-cost gluttony I thenceforth depended on a buffet restaurant called Soup Plantation, full of happy, plump white families driving down from Del Mar and La Mesa. It was many years before I ever stepped inside a Golden Corral, which has acquired a reputation that might be called Red Lobster squared. A typical description, from an online forum:

Well,here I go,trying to find a nice place to eat on a budget.I work out of town alot and I get tired of microwave dinners and the like….We have a place called Golden Corral around these parts…It’s a really good buffet type place with good food at good prices ($10.00 all you can eat).I found one close by were I’m staying and went in and sat down,making sure that there was not a nigger in sight. I had just gotten my tea and salad when,you guessed it,3 fat she-boons and their 4 niglets came in and sat right beside me…I had already paid for my meal so I hoped for the was not to be…These nigger sows took off on the buffet like Grant took Richmond…add to that the 3 niglets and of course a newborn nigger and the carnage was complete…Golden Corral was niggerfied…..loud talking and cell phones going off and the she-boons bragging about their new cars….Damn,it was totally disgusting….But while I ate I did get to observe the feral nigger close up and so I would like to share some of my field observations…
#1 Golden Corral has a very good selection of food,seafood,roast beef,vegetables and a great steak place where you can order steak, cooked like you like it, straight off the grill..really tasty…Well with this vast selection of food do you know what the niggers got?…That’s right…Fried Chicken….every nigger bitch and the niglets got a big heapin’ order of yard bird…..I guess there is truth in the statement that niggers and chicken go hand in hand…..
#2…every nigger sow had on bright red lipstick and blonde hair….why,if niggers are so much better than us why do they copy everything about us?
#3…Every nigger sow got or made at least 5 phone calls while I was there…what the hell is so important?
#4…Niggers are truely animals…The niglets, after eating began to roam the aisles..being a bother to all of the well behaved white persons and only calming down for a second after a nigger mammy hollars so loud that the whole parking lot can hear..”Dontarius,you get your ass over hears or you ain’t gettin no ice cream!” You could see the whites rolling their eyes at the young nigger thugs…
#5.. Niggers aren’t poor..This meal alone costs the niggers right at $60.00 bucks…and these niggers paid right up…In fact,any time you go out to eat you will see niggers with brand new cars,new designer clothes and loads of cash………courtesy of the “white debil”……..
#6…….Niggers always trying for free stuff….of course before leaving the niggers say to the young Hispanic waitress that “Dey,not be eating all dey food,so dey be wanting “snoop doggy” bags for later”…Golden Corral, being a buffet does not have take-out unless you pay….Naturally a chimpout ensues and the manager has to explain about 10 times to the she-boons why they cannot take food home without paying…..And of course the young waitress doesn’t get a tip even after bringing,I know at least 4 glasses of tea apiece to each of the she-boons and wiping up at least 3 spilled drinks courtesy of the niglets…
#7…..niggers are simply disgusting and every white knows it….I know by the look on the white faces….when these niggers walked in,every white person was secretly wishing…”Please God, Don’t let these niggers sit next to me and my family.”

Well, that was my $10.00 niggerfied Golden Corral dinner…..I try to avoid places were niggers work or eat but,nowadays it seems,especially down here in the south, that you just can’t escape from the feral nigger anywhere…..unless you can eat at the high class places where the rich, nigger-loving liberals go when they want to eat out….niggers don’t like caviar or duck l’orange……