Humor and Satire– Shmatire!

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My satirical take on the pursuit of youth can now be found in Happy Woman Magazine!

I first caught up with Marie Shafer at her sprawling two-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Raleigh, NC.  Shafer shares the apartment with her boyfriend, Bob, and their dog.

“We wanted to really make this place our own, when we first moved in,” she says, gesturing toward the living room, with its traditional white walls and high ceilings.  “When we signed the lease, though, it said no painting and no holes in the walls, so we kind of let that dream die.”

Still, the pair has installed a small shelving unit in the bathroom, and there are several posters in the guest bedroom which have been tacked to the walls.

“It’s kind of hard to do any real decorating without using thumbtacks,” Shafer concedes.  We’re hoping we can maybe patch over any holes when we move out.  This place did require a deposit, though, so I guess they can withhold it if they don’t like the way we leave things.”

Shafer invites me to have a seat on a wide, comfortable brown couch that sits opposite the television in the spacious living room.   A timely acquisition from some friends who were moving and no longer needed it, it is draped in a faux-suede cover which is sagging down a bit on the backrest, revealing the couch’s original material-which is rugged beige corduroy.

“They originally got it off of Craigslist,” Shafer notes, patting the couch.  “When we brought it up to the apartment, a T.V. Guide from 1984 fell out of the springs in the bottom!”

She adds, “It was kind of gross, but funny.”

The black painted coffee table sitting front of the couch is an unusual structure, with interesting shelving and unique lines.  I ask whether it is a re-built antique hope-chest, which seems possible, but learn that it is in fact a repurposed TV stand.  Shafer explains:  “When we got a wall-mounted TV we didn’t need that stand anymore, but we didn’t want to have to lug it to the curb, so we figured it fit right where it was.”

The cheerful dining room is decorated in a style Shafer refers to as, “Early Parent Castoff”.  A small butcher-block table is framed by upholstered chairs acquired from Bob’s family.  A sentimental Shafer family heirloom, the table is the perfect size for intimate meals for two, although Shafer admits that “it’s covered in our junk most of the time.  I cleared it off before you got here.”  An upright desk sits against the wall in the dining room, a uniquely modern touch.  According to Shafer, it wouldn’t fit anywhere else.  It is piled high with cook books and souvenir beer cozies.

The couple’s bedroom is dominated by a queen-sized bed-the frame of which was purchased from another friend who was moving; the mattress was a gift from Bob’s grandparents.  Shafer’s concept for the bedroom was simple yet elegant.

“I wanted to make it an open, inviting space,” she said, “And I think I kind of pulled that off, except that there’s not that much space between the bed and my dresser when you’re walking to the bathroom.  I bang my shin on that damn bed frame all the time. ” Shafer adds that in order to enhance the ‘openness’ of the room, she refrained from putting up curtains on any of the windows.

“Also, we didn’t have any when we moved,” she adds.  “My parents gave me some a few weeks ago, but I have to install the rods myself, and I just haven’t gotten to it yet.  Meh.”

President Bush held a brief press conference at the White House this afternoon to introduce what he called “a bold new proposal” that he believes “will greatly simplify and improve the lives of the American people.”

The President prefaced his announcement with a call for understanding.

“We are living in troubled times,” he began.  “I have found myself looking to the past to find the strength and inspiration to lead this great country.  The modern world has much to learn from the wisdom of olden times.  There are many great men of history, in many nations, whose ideas and values remain relevant and useful. ”

The President cleared his throat.  “One of these men in particular, an eighteenth-century novelist, wrote an essay whose clear and brilliant message resonates just as strongly today as it did when it was first published in 1729.  To his credit, this obscure Irish author has helped lay the framework for what my administration believes is a groundbreaking, yet simple and effective solution to one of the leading evils facing the American people today:  the problem of hunger.”

“Listen to me,” President Bush continued.  “Due to the failure of our schools to properly teach abstinence, teenage pregnancy rates are soaring, with no end in sight.  The threat of overpopulation in this country grows more imminent every day.

“America’s dependence on foreign oil and labor has left us scrambling to meet our basic needs for food and shelter.  It’s time we utilized an abundant resource that can be found right here, in most of our very own homes.”

“Children are wonderful,” the President declared.   “But we have more than enough of them right now.  Let us acknowledge that they are also wholesome and nutritious.  Difficult times call for difficult measures, and I think the American people understand what I’m talking about.”

The President went on to describe the tax breaks that would be granted to couples who chose to view their offspring as what he called ‘deliciously non-renewable resources’.

“It is true that these progressive, ‘energy-efficient’ families will be missing out on the economic incentives that are available through our current program, which rewards parents with a $5,000.00 tax credit for each child they raise,” Bush admitted.  “However, once the incentives of our new program are in place, parents will be rewarded with a hefty tax cut for making the kinds of practical and intelligent choices that are crucial for survival in the difficult and dog-eat-dog — or man-eat-baby– world of today.”

“Not only that,” he added, “but by offering the American people this choice, I am not only encouraging family togetherness, but also promoting an increase in home-cooked meals.”

“Think about it, my fellow citizens,” he concluded.  “I believe that this is going to be a turning point in this history of our country.  By looking to the past for inspiration, we are moving forward into a new era of succulence.”

“I don’t like the term ‘Rock Star’,” Crawford confesses, taking my arm and leading me down a slimy, narrow alleyway behind the bar where we’ve arranged to meet for our first interview. His Doc Martens are scuffed and there is a red plastic tambourine on a string around his neck. “I mean, what is a star, anyway? Some shiny thing in the sky, that you make wishes on? Stars are, like, kind of gay.”
He stops to stare moodily at a dumpster.

It’s not always easy being lauded as a ‘musical genius’, nor is it always likely. Crawford Lawman is well aware of this. When his critically acclaimed band, The Pan Flashes broke up, there were those who claimed that his spotlight had dimmed forever. Fortunately, the volatile bassist, who once shocked the nation when he streaked his hair with orange, had other plans. His first solo album, “Lightning Tongs” was released six months later, and its instant success and fairly positive reviews rocketed him to instant stardom. He has been the man of the hour ever since.

The next time I see Crawford, he is smoking what appears to be a stub of charcoal. It doesn’t seem to stay lit, but apparently serves other purposes.
“I can write with it if I need to, if an idea strikes me,” he tells me, lips coated with black carbon. “You never know when you’ll need to jot something down.” Crawford turns and draws a smiley face on the brick wall behind us in charcoal.
We both stare moodily at it.

During lunch, Lawman orders a shot of Nyquil to wash down his chicken tenders and is outraged to learn that it is not on the menu, nor can it be special-ordered.
He rips off his leather jacket and tries to bite it in half.
“Easy, Craw,” the bartender soothes. “Why don’t you go around the corner to the CVS an’ pick yourself up a whole bottle?”

Last Spring, Lawman appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone wearing a g-string made of kazoos. This prompted The New Yorker’s Alex Ross to proclaim, “Who is this guy?” Several critics since have called him “a visionary genius”. Others are not so complimentary. One former roommate I interviewed said that Lawman “still owes money for his share of cable and utilities for the last three months we lived together.” Mrs. Horner, Lawman’s querulous mother, reached by phone, requested that I ask her son “if it would kill him to come for dinner once in a while?” His father, who was busy “watching his stories,” at the time, was unavailable for comment.

I was disappointed by my conversation with Mrs. Horner. I had very much hoped that speaking with Lawman’s parents would help to supplement the little that is currently known about him: Born in 1979 as Herbert Horner in the small town of Stockbridge, Connecticut, it has been established that Lawman was a mediocre student who enjoyed gym class and disliked wearing hats. None of his elementary school music teachers appear to remember much about him, which leaves the initial formation of his tortured genius steeped in mystery. Lawman’s childhood friend, Ben Beasley, with whom he is in sporadic contact, has said in interviews that the young Herman Horner was something of a “dweeb”.

“Not exactly an outcast,” Beasley added, when I met with him in his West Newton, MA apartment. “Like, just a big dork. We weren’t rebelling against anything. We weren’t really a part of much of anything either. We mostly hung out after school and watched TV and ate jello jigglers.”

It is difficult from these small snatches of information to piece together a portrait of who this American Legend really might be. Our exchanges over the course of six interviews were limited by Lawman’s terse, one-word responses, his difficulty understanding certain words, and his fondness for quoting entire scenes from the comedy Space Balls for twenty-minute stretches at a time. While nuanced and vibrantly hilarious, his recitations did not get me any closer to understanding the brilliance that lay beneath those fringed vests and polyester smocks. My time with Lawman was a tantalizing, frustrating glimpse into the world of the maverick genius.

The last time I catch up with Lawman, he is sitting on the stoop of a neighborhood Laundromat.
“I wash my clothes here sometimes,” he says. “I do a lot of thinking here, too.” He stares moodily across the street.
I point out that his shoelaces are untied.
He gazes down slowly.
“Fuck,” he says. “I meant to wash these pants today.”
We both stare moodily at his pants.  Later, he will call me to tell me he wrote a song, Dirty Pants, about the incident.

Studies show that when chocolate tastes like ashes in your mouth, you’re less likely to overeat!

With poverty and unemployment on the rise and a devastating economic crisis threatening our society’s very foundations, the thought of the grim future ahead is pushing many Americans into the depths of despair. So why not drop a few dress sizes on your way down?

Readers, if we know you, you’ve been through your fair share of hard times. Chances are you recall those miserable days through a haze of listless melancholy. What you may not remember is what you ate during those difficult times—probably because food had lost its appeal. As a matter of fact, right this moment, depressed people all around you are shedding pound after pound because in their abject misery, not even eating seems worthwhile. Why let those savvy sad-sacks have all the fun and look great in the latest fashions? We’re here to help you attain their level of miserable apathy—just in time for bathing suit season!

A key inspiration for this diet plan comes from the life and ideas of Jean-Paul Sartre, an influential French philosopher (and you know how skinny the French are!) Sartre—or, as we like to call him, “The Thinking Woman’s Jenny Craig”, knew that life was a never-ending struggle against the paralyzing self-annihilation which comes from complete acknowledgement of the futility of existence. You’d better believe that man could suck all the fun out of a piece of birthday cake. But he wore a size 6 smoking jacket until the day he finally escaped the crushing agony of the responsibility of existence.

In one of Sartre’s most popular works, entitled “Nausea”, he wrote in detail of his character’s fear of being touched by inanimate objects, because of their indifference to him. Inanimate objects made him sad! The very walls around him made him want to toss his existentialist cookies! The guy was a pro. An unfocused but ever-present feeling of nausea is a great way to cut calories. And you barely have to change your lifestyle—just modify the way you view the world around you and your responsibility toward it, and we bet you’ll see proven results within weeks! As your grip on reality loosens, so will your jeans!

Readers, we know how unhappy you are, deep down. Try as you may to forget it as you go about your pointless daily routine, you know that existence is ultimately nothing more than relentless suffering. To be alive is to be constantly teetering on the edge of madness as you contemplate the futility of being. Still see the point of eating breakfast? Maybe you should go bikini-shopping instead.

Keep in mind that your efforts may be derailed if you do not dig down until you find yourself in a place of complete and total misery— that is, if you are merely unhappy. Unhappy people tend to seek comfort in food—and they often find it there, if only temporarily. A box of chocolate-glazed donut holes will offer at least a few moments of lingering solace to a person who has merely had a rough day. If you are following this program correctly, however, donut holes will be unable to move you. In fact, the very concept of donut holes will be devoid of significance, except inasmuch as they represent the missing part of a donut, which reminds you that your capacity to find meaning in life is also missing. You will be aware that the glaze which obscures them is only their way of hiding their pain from the world. There is nothing tasty about it, because it is a sugary coating of lies.

Now you’re thinking like a size 2!

You can now read one of my satire pieces here:

Happy Woman Magazine

Also I recommend checking out the website because it is deee-licious.

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